Reports - The Cold Economy

Doing Cold Smarter

Birmingham Energy Institute - Doing Cold Smarter

Clean Cooling sat on the side line of the energy debate for many years. This was in spite of its booming demand, influence over key issues such as healthcare and food supply, and it’s highly energy intensive nature. To bring this crucial topic to the front lines of the energy debate the Birmingham Energy Institute created their own policy, “Doing Cold Smarter” chaired by Lord Teverson.

This policy commission detailed the challenges the booming demand for cold has created and the repercussions that could be faced if nothing is done about it. Through the policy commission a series of recommendations are made that can help prevent the impending environmental crisis.

The Commissioners


Doing cold smarter report (PDF)

Clean Cold and the Global Goals

Clean Cold - Birmingham Energy Institute

Clean Cold and the Global Goals is a pivotal research project, which investigates how clean cold could help to achieve almost all of the United Nations’ (UN) Global Goals. The 17 ‘Global Goals’ commit the international community to put the world to rights by 2030 - abolishing poverty and hunger; providing good healthcare and education; raising people’s quality of life; and cleaning up the environment, whilst promoting economic growth.


Clean coal and the global goals report (PDF)

India's Third Agricultural Revolution

Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy. Prime Minister Modi declared ‘I wish to double the income of farmers by 2022 when India will celebrate 75 years of its independence’. To reach its full economic potential, Indian agriculture urgently needs a third revolution: the ‘cool’ revolution to build efficient market links through a sustainable cold chain. This report was written as a result of a study tour and workshop led by the University of Birmingham’s Energy Institute, with support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Trade and India’s National Centre for Cold-chain Development. It addresses the next steps in the challenge of developing sustainable cold chains in India quickly.

Following the release of this report, further bi-lateral workshops  and the subsequent Cool World Congress, the University of Birmingham and the State Government of Haryana have signed an agreement to advance the use of ‘clean cold’ technology in India and help meet rising demand for cooling sustainably. The agreement will see a collaboration to develop centres of excellence for clean cold chains that will help to map out a blueprint and delivery plan for sustainable cooling across the north Indian state. 


India's third agricultural revolution report (PDF)

Retail refrigeration

Retailers have been set a series of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) phase-down targets to encourage a shift towards natural refrigerants. Although progress is being made, retailers are not transitioning quickly enough to meet these targets. As retailers make the transition it is important they consider the whole system impacts of refrigeration, not just the need to meet refrigerant targets. In particular, the long term energy efficiency of wider system needs must be considered to ensure that any refrigeration technology selected maximises the overall environmental benefits and economic opportunities. The report Retail Refrigeration: Making the Transition to Clean Cold examines what the move to natural refrigerants means for retailers and the opportunity to consider overall store and system architecture to deliver broader longer term benefits.


Retail Refrigeration: Making the Transition to Clean Cold report (PDF)


Retail Refrigeration: Making the Transition to Clean Cold

A Cool World: Defining the Energy Conundrum of Cooling for All

The cooling sector is fast becoming one of our foremost environmental concerns. For the next 30 years, it is predicted that 19 cooling appliances will be installed every second; but even with this mass growth in the cooling sector, much of the world will still be without access to cooling, suffering the consequence: food wastage, spoiled medicines, unsafe living and working environments. However, the problem is not solely social, but also environmental.

If we are to deliver access to cooling for all, by 2050, we could require 14 billion cooling appliances globally - four times as many as are in use today. This would see the cooling sector consume five times the amount of energy it does today, and without radical intervention, ‘greening’ this volume of electricity could consume 80% of our projected renewables capacity in 2050. As we transition from hydrocarbons to renewables, we need a whole system approach to develop new, efficient paradigms for clean cooling. In order to achieve this, we need to stop asking ourselves ‘how much electricity do we need to generate?’ and start asking ‘what is the service we require, and how can we provide it in the least damaging way?’

‘A Cool World – Defining the Energy Conundrum of Cooling for All’, a new University of Birmingham report, sets out to provide, for the first time, an initial indication of the scale of the energy implications of Cooling for All, a scenario that would see ubiquitous penetration of cooling - and next steps to manage this within our climate change and natural resource limits.


A Cool World – Defining the Energy Conundrum of Cooling for All (PDF)

Promoting Clean and Energy Efficient Cold-Chains in India

Cold-chains are expected to proliferate rapidly in India during the next few years through a combination of market and policy driven efforts.  But unplanned investments in the cold-chain sector can create a carbon intensive stand-alone infrastructure of cold storages, reefer vehicles and ripening chambers instead of a sustainable and cohesive agri-supply chain.

As Pawanexh Kohli, CEO, National Centre for Cold-chain Development and Visiting Professor at the University of Birmingham comments: “Cold-chains enhance economic wealth, cash flow and security for farmers and improve food quality, safety and value to the customer, but they must achieve this with minimum environmental impact. While we can reduce the loss of food in the delivery chain through use of technology, existing cold-chain is an energy intensive application, often relying on diesel to provide off-grid and on-vehicle cooling – this is not good for the planet.”

The scale of the challenge is enormous. A 2015 study by the National Centre for Cold-Chain Development showed that the country needs: 70,080 pack-houses where perishable crops are stored (only 249 had been built); 9,131 ripening chambers (only 812 in operation); and 61,826 refrigerated reefer vehicles (about 9,000 in operation).

Recognising this, Shakti Foundation, the University of Birmingham and MP Ensystems Advisory Pvt. Ltd., in collaboration with key partners are leading efforts to advance cleaner and more energy-efficient cold chains in India. As a first step they have today launched a new report: ’Promoting Clean and Energy Efficient Cold-Chains in India’. Primary research was conducted in the states of Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The report authors have highlighted that the infrastructure is only half the solution. Equally important is the flow of key information from wholesaler, retailer or consumer to producer – from “fork to farm” - which can help shape resource conscious robust business models and viable financing models to underpin the investment in clean cold-chain.

Says lead report author, Mahesh Patankar of MP Ensystems who led the in-country team and research: “Cold-chain infrastructure and business models need to be grounded within the communities – providing them the solutions to enhance their livelihood while catering to a country’s nutritional requirements. Enhanced IoT and Blockchain techniques proposed by the research team are designed to bring substantial benefits to those who need it the most.”

The plan’s authors recommend four key actions in:

  • Promoting new business models that involve the communities taking charge of their own cooling needs;
  • Establishing ‘Living Labs’ in rural communities where new technology can be tested;
  • Providing training to enable people in the food industry to use new technology; and
  • Creating a new framework for delivering IT-based cold chain solutions; particularly IT-based services to manage harvesting and logistics, and selling surplus cooling capacity



Promoting Clean and Energy Efficient Cold-Chains in India (PDF)