The Need for a National Cooling Action Plan

India’s cooling energy demand is projected to grow exponentially over the next few years. The aggregated nationwide growth is expected to grow 2.2 to 3 times, just in the next decade, over the 2017 baseline. While this poses adverse environmental and societal impacts – significant additional power generation capacity, peak load impacts, and an enormous greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint – there is also an increasing recognition for the social and economic imperatives for access to cooling as development priority in the country as well as globally, especially amongst developing countries with tropical climates in a warming world.

Recent studies show that Energy Efficiency and other known strategies and technologies (i.e., without factoring in game changers) can, by 2030, result in energy and carbon savings of ~30%. This can avoid nearly 50 medium sized (500 MW) power plants and free up this investment capacity to provide wider energy access. The potential GHG savings amount to nearly 170 MT/year annually, that is, roughly equivalent to what is saved by 80 GW of solar power. Evolving data increasingly points to the fact that proactively managing India’s cooling energy needs is not just a societal imperative but also a key contributor to meeting India’s sustainable development goals and its international climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement (2015) and the Kigali Amendment (2016) to the Montreal Protocol.

Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, is developing a National Cooling Action Plan (NCAP) that will provide a 20-year outlook on how cooling demand in India will evolve and grow, and outline strategies and actions that promote sustainable and smart cooling practices across the nation while mitigating adverse impacts.

Development of the NCAP

The development of the NCAP is envisioned as a multi-stakeholder effort, bringing together several key stakeholders such as experts on the cooling industry, energy efficiency, and alternative refrigerants (low- and zero-GWP) and neutral think-tanks, and research entities that are actively working to advance the drive for sustainable and efficient space cooling. Another key stakeholder group is the relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Power, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The third set of stakeholders is the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry partners. The collective engagement of all these stakeholders will be the key in the development of a Plan that is readily actionable and easily deployed across the nation. MoEFCC is in a unique position to demonstrate a triple-sector leadership approach to develop and formulate a powerful narrative that will resonate with multiple stakeholders in the government, private sector, and non-profit and research organizations in India, and help position India as a leader in using sustainable and smart cooling strategies, linking Montreal Protocol to both mitigate climate change and support India’s sustainable development goals.

Due to be launched on the World Ozone Day on 16 September 2018, the NCAP will discuss the cooling growth scenarios and the potential pathways under the following key areas:

  • Space Cooling (or comfort cooling) in Buildings
  • Cooling for Transportation
  • Cold Chain & Refrigeration
  • Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Technologies
  • R&D and Production Sector (alternative refrigerants and technologies)
  • Servicing Sector
  • Cross-cutting Policy and Regulations

The MoEFCC has established multi-stakeholder Working Groups for each of the above thematic areas, in order to develop robust analysis and pathways as key elements of the NCAP.

Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) is actively involved in the development of the NCAP, leveraging its strong portfolio of cooling work to lead the Working Groups in two of the thematic areas: Space Cooling in Buildings, and Cold Chain & Refrigeration.