Energy experts at the University of Birmingham are championing UK investment in clean-cold technologies amid concern that global demand for cooling and refrigeration will overtake heating by 2060. They warn that if no action is taken greenhouse gas emissions will rise by more than 1.5 billion tonnes of Co2 a year within 15 years.

Preventable deaths

Modern luxuries such as refrigeration, data servers, modern healthcare, transport of fresh food and air conditioning are now recognised as using more energy at greater environmental cost.

A Birmingham Policy Commission report, Doing Cold Smarter, explains that lack of adequate cold storage causes two million preventable deaths a year and results in the loss of 200 million tonnes of food in developing markets. It says an effective cold chain is essential to deal with food waste, water conservation and public health while communications networks could be affected as data centres require sufficient cooling.

Systems-level approach

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the University of Birmingham Energy Institute, says: ‘There needs to be a rapid development of emerging technologies and a systems-level approach. If the UK gets this right the potential for exports, growth, productivity and jobs could be enormous.’

The University is set to play a crucial role in the next step towards the transformation of the UK’s energy sector after the Government confirmed £60m investment for the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA). The investment is backed by a further £120 million from the private sector and Midlands Innovation universities.

Professor Toby Peters

Professor Toby Peters

Professor in Power and Cold Economy at the University of Birmingham. Long-time advocate of UK-based innovation in energy systems and founder of Highview Power and the Dearman Engine Company.

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