Increasing electricity demand around the world for air-conditioning represents one of the most important sustainability challenges of our time, due to its significant environmental, economic, and social impacts.
A consensus is emerging that as temperatures and populations rise, the projected increase in global energy demand for cooling will be a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions, unless steps are taken now to manage it. It is estimated that by the end of the decade additional electricity demand caused by the purchase of in-room air conditioners will grow, stressing power grids and requiring extensive infrastructure development to keep up with energy demand.
With the backdrop of this global challenge, Berkeley Lab’s Mexico Energy Initiative (MEI) launched an investigation of the dynamics of this important end use in Mexico. The resulting report, “Mexico Space Cooling Electricity Impacts and Mitigation Strategies” (Mexico Cooling Fact Book
), presents analysis of the impact of cooling on Mexico’s energy landscape and introduces a comprehensive strategy (Mexico Cooling Initiative
) to address it. The Mexico Cooling Fact Book, developed by MEI Director Michael McNeil with support from USAID
, informed the discussions of the workshop “Summit on Space Cooling Research and Opportunities in Mexico
”, held in February 2018 in Mexico City.
The main findings of the Mexico Cooling Fact Book indicate that space cooling (air conditioning) in Mexico represented:
- 30% increase of electricity use in the summer
- 9% of total electricity consumption
- Peak electricity demand of 7.5 GW
- More than US $3 billion annually in energy bills and subsidies
- 10 million metric tons of CO2 and peak demand not correlated with a renewable source
The study identifies different mechanisms to decrease space cooling energy demand. The following actions are part of the Mexico Cooling Initiative that MEI seeks to put in motion in coordination with the Ministry of Energy in Mexico (SENER
), the National Commission for the Efficient Use of Energy (CONUEE
), and other relevant stakeholders to address the significant projected rise in cooling demand in the country:
● Equipment Efficiency Standards
- Rapidly adopt the best air conditioning technologies on the market through regulations such as Mexico’s National Standards (Normas Oficiales Mexicanas).
● Voluntary Programs
- Develop and disseminate ultra-low energy alternatives to current technologies through voluntary programs such as labeling, rebates, early replacement programs, and public information campaigns.
● Technology R&D
- Develop alternative cooling technologies such as evaporative cooling and solar-assisted cooling for the Mexican market and deploy them through industry partnerships.
● Building Envelope Best Practices
- Lower cooling load with improved construction and retrofits through mandatory building codes and private sector initiatives.
● Cool Solar Reflective Coatings
- Lower cooling load by reducing solar heat gain through cool roofs and other reflective coatings.
● Smart Design and Operation
- Employ advanced construction, integrated design, user behavior and smart controls to reduce or eliminate cooling loads, and respond to peak loads and electricity prices. The Mexico Cooling Fact Book was developed in collaboration with the University of California California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE)
and used analysis of existing data from several primary sources such as Mexico's Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), the National Electricity Development Program (PRODESEN), NREL’s National Solar Resource Database
, and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) to estimate cooling energy consumption and availability of renewable resources.