Andreas Andreou, John Barrett, Peter Taylor, Paul Brockway, Zia Wadud
While space cooling currently represents less than 1% of final energy use in the residential sector of the European Union (EU-28), it was the fastest growing end-use during the 2000-15 period with a mean annual growth rate of 6% per year. Currently, little is known about factors which have driven regional air-conditioning (AC) energy consumption over time, since the literature is limited to cross-sectional studies that lack differentiation between climatic and non-climatic influences. Future projections for the EU’s electricity sector may therefore neglect the potential implications of rapidly growing AC demand. We develop a novel decomposition framework, which breaks down residential space cooling energy consumption in EU-28 countries into the effect of different components from 2000 to 2015. Decomposition is extended to panel data models identifying specific drivers of space cooling’s climate-sensitive components.
Finally, we explore scenarios of residential AC energy consumption up to 2050 and evaluate their impact on summer time peak loads. AC diffusion was found to be the key driver of space cooling energy consumption, but this effect was partly counterbalanced by efficiency gains. While weather influences AC equipment ownership rate in EU-28 households, personal income has a larger marginal effect. In baseline scenarios, AC diffusion saturates by 2050, while modestly increasing sectoral final energy use. Still, our range of scenario values for space cooling energy consumption in 2050 exceed the majority of those originating from recently published projections. In a future renewables-driven electricity system, energy security risks may emerge from a scenario of fast AC up-take in new and renovated buildings, especially for colder European countries where modelled peak cooling electricity demand is shown to outgrow the projected expansion of solar capacity. These findings have important implications for the EU’s strategy to decarbonise energy supply.
Andreou, A., Barrett, J., Taylor, P.G., Brockway, P.E. and Wadud, Z. 2020. Decomposing the drivers of residential space cooling energy consumption in EU-28 countries using a panel data approach. Energy and Built Environment, 1 (4): 432-442. doi: 10.1016/j.enbenv.2020.03.005Opens in a new tab
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