Sustainable Space Cooling

Growth in demand for cooling is estimated to rise significantly in the next few decades, driven by increasing incomes in warm climates that currently have low air conditioner penetration (Davis and Gertler, 2015). Increased saturation of air conditioners has significant impacts in terms of total electricity generation and also for load management. Many parts of the world have, or are gaining, a pronounced seasonal peak in electricity demand corresponding to the hottest months of the year, so increased air conditioning could necessitate large capacity investments.

Appliance Ownership in Urban China and India

Air conditioner Ownership in Urban China (red line) and India (red dot) (Source: NSSO, 2012; Fridley, 2012)

Hourly Demand in Delhi

Hourly Demand in Delhi (Source: DSLDC, 2012)

Increased saturation of air conditioners also has a large and emissions impact both due to carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption and emissions of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant R410A (GWP=1924, IPCC AR5).

The International Energy Studies Group addresses the electricity, peak load, and emissions challenges posed by growing cooling demand by research on the following research topics:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Demand response
  • Low-GWP alternate refrigerants

Selected Publications:

Shah, Nihar, Nikit Abhyankar, Won Young Park, Amol A. Phadke, Saurabh Diddi,Deepanshu Ahuja, P.K. Mukherjee, and Archana Walia. Cost-Benefit of Improving the Efficiency of Room Air Conditioners (Inverter and Fixed Speed) in India., 2016.

Shah, Nihar, Max Wei, Virginie Letschert, Amol Phadke. "Benefits of leapfrogging to Superefficiency and low-GWP Refrigerants in Airconditioning", 36th Open-ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, Paris, France

Shah, Nihar, Nikit Abhyankar, Amol A. Phadke, and Girish Ghatikar. Considerations in Standardization for Demand Response Ready Air Conditioners in India." In India Smart Grid Week 2015. Bangalore, India, 2015.

de la Rue du Can, Stephane, Greg Leventis, Nihar Shah, and Michael A. McNeil."Cooling the Growth of Air Conditioners Energy Consumption." In ECEEE 2015 Summer Study on energy efficiency . Hyères, France, 2015.

Phadke, Amol A., Nikit Abhyankar, and Nihar Shah. Avoiding 100 New Power Plants by Increasing Efficiency of Room Air Conditioners in India: Opportunities and Challenges., 2014.

Shah, Nihar, Nakul Sathaye, Amol A. Phadke, and Virginie E. Letschert."Efficiency improvement opportunities for ceiling fans." Energy Efficiency 8, no. 1 (2014): 37-50.

Shah, Nihar, Paul Waide, and Amol A. Phadke. Cooling the Planet: Opportunities for Deployment of Superefficient Room Air Conditioners., 2013.


Prayas Energy Group, Pune, India
UN Environment's United for Efficiency Initiative