As severe summer-time heat waves become the norm in India, the use of air-conditioners (ACs) and resultant energy consumption have started hitting the roof. If every household in India ran an AC for seven months a year, the total electricity required would be 120 per cent higher than the total electricity produced in the country during 2017-18.
In this scenario, all the plans India has on energy security and climate change mitigation are bound to fall by the wayside – unless the country takes urgent steps towards designing buildings that ensure thermal comfort and reduce the use of ACs and other mechanical cooling devices. This is the argument offered by Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) new report on thermal cooling, released here today.
The report, titled “A Midsummer Nightmare: Decoding the link between comfort, space cooling and energy consumption in a climate-stressed world”, released by Center for Science and Environment (CSE), calls for designing buildings for reducing the heat load on them, promoting adaptive comfort, and cuttingdown over-dependence on air conditioning.
CSE has studied the trends – over eight years — in electricity consumption in Delhi.Its analysis shows that power demand barely changes when the heat index (a measure of temperature and humidity) is within 25-32oC – it spirals out of control the moment this range is breached.
Says CSE executive director (research and advocacy) Anumita Roychowdhury: “If the growing discomfort due to increasing heat is not addressed with wide-ranging architectural design solutions, 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 will be deeply undermined.”
Says Rajneesh Sareen, programme director, Sustainable Habitat team in CSE: “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 to the 2017-18 baseline.”