Birmingham Energy Institute policy commission requests evidence for important new report on need to rethink cooling

The Birmingham Energy Institute policy commission has announced a call for written evidence submissions for its investigation into an improved and sustainable systems approach to the provision of cold, or cooling.

The latest University of Birmingham policy commission is investigating how the growing demand for ‘cold’ and cooling, which is required to address global challenges of hunger, disease and population growth, can be met without causing environmental ruin.

The commission leaders are now inviting international experts from academia, NGOs and industry to attend workshops in the UK and in Asia to discuss how to ‘do cold smarter’ both in emerging markets and in the UK, which would include the following:

  • greater recycling of waste energy, including waste cold to supply cooling
  • using liquid air and other cryogens as energy vectors to store and deliver cold and power
  • developing more efficient technologies, materials and practices around cold and cooling
  • establishing a skills base that can meet the future demand for new technologies and manufacturing


The commissioners ask interested experts and organisations to submit written evidence. Considering economic, business and regulatory barriers to improving the resource efficiency of cooling, and the fiscal, policy and legislative changes that might be required to overcome them, four key themes have been identified for analysis:

  • cold and cooling technologies and innovation
  • manufacturing of cold and cooling technologies and skills
  • understanding the nature and scale of the demand for cold and cooling
  • implementing solutions and scaling up


The provision of cold is a vital foundation of modern society - without it medicine, data and the supply and preservation of food would break down. Cooling is also energy intensive; estimates suggest that it consumes up to 14% of Britain’s electricity and £5.2 billion each year is spent on energy for cold across the grid and transport. These figures will be significantly higher in warmer countries, while in rapidly developing nations such as China and India investment in cooling is starting to boom.

Yet, compared to electricity, transport and heat, cold and cooling have received little attention in the international energy debate. The commission will research new ways of providing cold in a sustainable way, specifically through a system level approach, as well as exploring the economic opportunities this new clean cold industry could present.

The commission is chaired by Lord Teverson, Principal Spokesperson for Transport and former Member of the European Parliament, and brings together leading figures from the public, private and third sectors together with university academics to focus attention on contemporary issues of global, national and civic concern in order to generate new thinking and identify innovative policy solutions.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute and academic co-lead for the commission said:

This Birmingham policy commission is designed to provide critical thinking and solutions to the many challenges organisations and governments face in terms of cooling provision. We wish to hear from experts and industry specialists to ensure that the report is representative of these challenges and provides a roadmap for future thinking around cold technologies and joined up policy.

The Commission will produce a final report to government in October 2015.

More information about the commission and the evidence gathering process is available online at www.birmingham.ac.uk/doingcoldsmarter