Chilling out: The road to greener air conditioning
Nairobi, 5 October 2010 - Air-conditioning units that use renewable energy, such as solar power or cold seawater, are approaching the commercial production stage - a milestone that could reduce climate change and help phase-out greenhouses gases known as HCFCs (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons).
This was one of the key outcomes of a conference held in Cairo, Egypt last week to review global technology trends in the air conditioning sector and their impact on the environment.
The two-day meeting was co-organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and was attended by more than 150 international experts from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Representatives of bilateral and UN agencies that operate within the Montreal Protocol On Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, which is the international treaty to designed to protect the ozone layer, also took part.
There are around 1.5 billion refrigerators and half a billion air conditioners on the planet. Together with industrial 'chillers', they represent the major use of HCFCs worldwide.
In 2007, Parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs - chemicals that were used to replace the more ozone-damaging CFCs - by 2030. Phasing-out HCFCs by 2030 will not only assist in the restoration of the ozone layer but could play an important role in addressing climate change.
Achieving this target would provide a global emission reduction of up to 40 Gigatonnes of Equivalent Carbon Dioxide, the measure for describing the concentration of CO2 that impacts global warming. As well as the environmental benefits, promoting energy efficient alternatives to traditional chillers would also set in motion Green Business models, through the creation of new jobs.
"In order to get low carbon technologies to market, we need not only air-conditioning engineers but also the financial engineers to undertake innovative financing to meet the higher capital costs of new technology", said Rajendra Shende, Head of UNEP's OzonAction Programme.
Participants at the Cairo conference discussed the importance of facilitating technology transfer and encouraging the research which would be the backbone for promoting the shift to environmentally-friendly chillers which, in turn, would help meet the environmental sustainability target of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The conference was organised as part of a UNEP project funded by the Multilateral Fund of Montreal Protocol for Global Technical Assistance Programme which provides technical and financial assistance to developing countries to help phase-out ozone-depleting substances such as HCFCs. The meeting also allowed all bilateral and UN agencies to present the outcomes of their demonstration projects in the chiller sector and share experience as well as technical and financial data with experts.
"The role of ASHRAE in sponsoring research and educational programs for its members can help in speeding the phasing-out process of CFCs and HCFCs," said Lynn G. Bellenger, President of ASHRAE. "ASHRAE can also help in overcoming the barrier in the phasing out of non-climate-friendly chillers through better energy efficiency standards", she added.
The latest developments on air conditioners and the case studies were presented in Cairo through 22 peer-reviewed papers by researchers and experts from 14 countries that addressed topics such as Heat Driven Water Chillers Technology, Vapour-Compression Chillers Technology, Absorption Chillers Technology, Solar-Assisted Cooling Systems, Industrial Chillers Technology, and Alternative Refrigerants.
Notes to Editors
The UNEP DTIE OzonAction Branch assists developing countries and countries with economies in transition (CEITs) to enable them to achieve and sustain compliance with the Montreal Protocol. With our programme's assistance, countries are able to make informed decisions about alternative technologies and ozone-friendly policies.
The Branch has the distinction of implementing more than 1,000 projects and services that benefit of more than 100 developing countries and 17 CEITs, plus other services that assist another 40 developing countries.
For more information, please visit: http://www.uneptie.org/ozonaction
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers advances technology to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world. Membership is open to any person associated with the field. ASHRAE vision is to be the global leader, the foremost source of technical and educational information, and the primary provider of opportunity for professional growth in the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating. ASHRAE, founded in 1894 is an international organization of more than 50,000 persons. For more information, please visit www.ashrae.org