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KAPSARC explores ways to achieve cooling sustainability and increase the efficiency of AC
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 28 - 09 - 2020

The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) has published a workshop brief aimed at exploring energy consumption trends, and ways to enhance Saudi Arabia's efforts to achieve cooling sustainability, especially with its G20 presidency.
The paper, entitled "The Future of Cooling in Saudi Arabia: Technology, Market and Policy Options," seeks to examine and study the best ways to enhance the efficiency of cooling units, which was needed with the emergence of COVID-19 to essentially increase the efficiency of air conditioning (AC) in the Kingdom, and work on developing various filtration techniques.
KAPSARC's paper pointed out that Saudi Arabia is the third-largest consumer of electricity for cooling after the United States and China, and accounts for 10% of the total electricity cooling demand from G20 countries, despite representing just 1% of the G20 population. AC accounts for more than 50% of total annual electricity consumption in buildings.
KAPSARC's paper identified several initiatives that could contribute to a sustainable cooling transition, and provide data for energy markets in Saudi Arabia: a new G20 cooling initiative, innovative business models, and establishing living labs in different regions of the Kingdom.
Phasing out window units with a full national roll out of the Kingdom's high-efficiency AC incentive program for households could yield 35 terawatthours (TWh) in annual electricity reduction at a cost to the government of $6 billion. This would also be an ideal green stimulus measure to promote jobs and reduce CO2 emissions.
The center's paper concluded with three challenges facing Saudi Arabia to increase cooling efficiency: enhancing cooling technology to reduce electricity consumption and waste, making the power generation system more efficient and environmentally friendly, and achieving zero-emissions, temperature-controlled transport.
KAPSARC's paper reviewed the main factors affecting electricity consumption and residential AC use: the area and number of rooms being cooled in each dwelling, the thermostat, how long the AC is turned on for and the efficiency of the unit. This was in addition to other factors such as the size and type of dwelling and user behavior, including subjective perceptions of comfort.
In the workshop brief, KAPSARC recommended that the development and adoption of more efficient cooling technologies is aligned with Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to reduce the quantities of oil consumed in domestic power generation.
The center also called for a deeper understanding of end-user behavior through the "living lab" initiative to help guide power generation policymaking and AC units' specifications.
The global urgency of the issue was also highlighted in light of rising temperatures due to climate change and the increase number heat waves.
KAPSARC is currently leading a G20 initiative proposal to enhance international collaboration on cooling to address these issues including the important role management of cooling systems can play in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The workshops held by KAPSARC are an interactive and participatory platform that brings together decision-makers, stakeholders, experts, and specialists in energy and economics. They help to share knowledge, analyses and recommendations.
A subsequent research brief is issued, which includes the most important insights and recommendations discussed by the participants in the workshops.
It is noted that KAPSARC announced last February its progress in the list of the best research centers regionally and globally. KAPSARC jumped 14 ranks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) research centers to rank 15th out of 103 research centers regionally, and ranked 13th out of 60 research centers globally specializing in energy policies and resources. — SG


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