The hotter it gets, the more power we use to run air conditioners, which in turn, puts all climate change mitigation and energy security actions in the red, a study has revealed. A study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Thursday said the average power consumption in the national capital during peak heatwave days in June increased by 25 per cent compared with the season’s average.
Environment experts suggested that buildings must be designed for thermal comfort to minimise the use of mechanical cooling systems.
The CSE’s new study, “A Midsummer Nightmare”, based on eight-year trend analysis of electricity consumption in Delhi, said, “Average electricity consumption in Delhi during the peak heatwave days of June 7-12, 2019, increased by 25 per cent compared to the season’s average. This trend is expected to worsen nationally as the heat index and climatic stress are continuously increasing.”
CSE Executive Director (Research and Advocacy) Anumita Roychowdhury said if the growing discomfort due to increasing heat was not addressed with wide-ranging architectural design solutions, the mixed use of cooling approaches (including less energy-intensive devices like fans) and improved energy efficiency of mechanical cooling methods, India’s energy security and climate change mitigation efforts would be deeply undermined.
The study points out that this situation can nullify the goals of India’s Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) released this year.
“India is already facing an energy crisis where urban penetration of air conditioning is 7-9 per cent and the domestic demand for electricity is 24.32 per cent of the total electricity consumption in 2016-17 (as per the India Energy Statistics Report 2018),” it said.
Rajneesh Sareen, Programme Director, Sustainable Habitat team in the CSE, said, “The demand for space cooling in buildings is expected to explode and upset the energy budget of India. Cooling energy consumption in buildings is likely to double in the next decade and become nearly four times in the next two decades compared with the 2017-18 baseline.”
The CSE has also noted that there was an increase of 1 per cent in the peak energy demand per degree rise in temperature between 2018 and 2019 summers.
“These loads and trends are much steeper than the estimated increase in the number of electricity consumers and are indicative of increasing usage of energy-intensive cooling devices like ACs,” it said.