Space cooling has to be renewable


Cooled rooms on hot summer days are a luxury that many no longer want to do without. But where does the energy needed for space cooling come from? All too rarely it comes from renewable sources since the necessary political framework for renewable cooling is lacking. This is the key finding of a report conducted by Oeko-Institut on behalf of the NL Agency of the Netherlands.

New space cooling technologies could make an important contribution to meeting the climate protection targets in the European Union. However, EU countries do not yet see themselves as obliged in this respect, as Tanja Kenkmann, project leader and researcher at Oeko-Institut, explains: “Up to now there are no requirements from the EU which would be binding for member states. Without policy targets the necessary incentive to establish instruments for promoting renewable cooling is lacking.”

Setting policy incentives to improve technology

Renewable cooling has played a secondary role in current discussions on and strategies for climate protection to date. Data on the use of renewable cooling technologies are not even being collected yet. As a result the numbers are also not counted against the expansion targets set within the scope of the EU Renewable Energy Sources (RES) Directive. The opposite is the case for the production of heat from renewable sources. “The discussions on and strategies for climate-friendly temperature control of rooms chiefly address the heating sector,” says Kenkmann.

And yet there are no lack of technologies for renewable cooling. Alongside solar air conditioning which is under development, there are other technologies which could already be increasingly used to meet the growing cooling demand. These include direct cooling with water or snow and cooling with groundwater, with or without a heat pump operating in reverse mode. There are positive examples of their use throughout the EU.

Covering 50 per cent of the cooling demand with renewable energies

In the long term at least the half of the cooling demand in the EU could be met using renewable technologies. However, for such ambitious goals to be achieved, policymakers need to take action. The experts at Oeko-Institut recommend, among other things, establishing an EU-wide standardised definition and terminology for renewable cooling and implementing these in legal requirements.

Furthermore renewable cooling must be incorporated in both energy statistics and the RES Directive of the EU and compliance with the targets contained therein must be monitored. The EU member states should support renewable cooling technologies with suitable support instruments and more extensively tap the regional potentials of possible technologies. Corresponding industry is called upon to improve space cooling technology and to increase its marketing.

Further information

Oeko-Institut's policy report: Contribution of Renewable Cooling to the Renewable Energy Target of the EU


Tanja Kenkmann
Researcher, Energy & Climate Division 
Oeko-Institut e.V., Freiburg head office
Phone: +49 761 45295-263

Oeko-Institut is a leading independent European research and consultancy institute working for a sustainable future. Founded in 1977, the institute develops principles and strategies for ways in which the vision of sustainable development can be realised globally, nationally and locally. It has offices in three cities in Germany: Freiburg, Darmstadt and Berlin.

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