Why do we need better cooling?
Cold has quietly become a part of 21st-century life, certainly in advanced economies: people expect air conditioning to make homes, offices and cars comfortable (and many cities habitable); most food in the developer world is chilled or frozen; medicines, including vaccines, need refrigeration; industries such as steel, chemicals and plastics depend on cooling; deprived of cold, data centres – and the internet – would collapse in minutes.
Over the next 15 years, according to the EU, the energy used to cool buildings across Europe is likely to increase by 72%, while the energy used for heating them will fall by 30%.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that demand for residential air conditioning alone will rise from 300 terawatt hours a year in 2000 to 4,000 in 2050 and 10,000 by 2100.
According to Computer Weekly, data centre power consumption quadrupled from 2007 to 2013, and is set to nearly double again over the next 15 years.
Research by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency predicts that by about 2060, the amount of energy used worldwide in cooling will overtake that used in heating.