How do we keep our cool while at the same time reducing carbon emissions?

In a rapidly heating world, we will need more and more air conditioning to make our homes and workplaces comfortable spaces to be in. As air conditioning is already responsible for around 8.5% of global electricity consumption and approximately 1 Gt of carbon emissions, we need to find more energy-efficient ways to cool our homes and offices, so that we can continue to do so without escalating climate impact.
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A warmer world needs energy-efficient cooling solutions

This July, we saw the hottest week ever recorded globally, leading to near-unlivable temperatures in many places around the world. In a world where around 8,5% of global electricity consumption already goes to air conditioning, this seems like a dire situation where our need for cooling goes against our climate goals. Unfortunately, a lot of the energy used for air conditioning today is wasted. Fortunately, the technology exists to make our cooling systems much more efficient, and thereby more environmentally friendly.
Plate heat exchangers can reduce the amount of energy wasted in each step of the cooling process. Every year, hundreds of thousands of new Alfa Laval plate heat exchangers are installed in air conditioning systems, reducing CO2 emissions by 196,000 tonnes and saving 860 GWh of electrical power annually compared to traditional solutions. That is the same amount of power needed to cool 400,000 Singaporean homes every year.

Choosing the right refrigerants and heat exchangers affects the climate

The climate impact of air conditioners is also decided by the refrigerants used. Different refrigerants have different global warming potentials (GWP), meaning that the gases themselves affect the climate to varying degrees. Refrigerants with low GWP include natural refrigerants such as propane and HydroFluoroCarbons, and sometimes require a full restructuring of the refrigeration equipment.
“At Alfa Laval, we want to support our customers in finding a solution that lasts, including offering our own expertise within low-GWP refrigerants,” says Federico Lechi, Manager Application & Product Specialist at Alfa Laval.

AHRI certification matters

Aside from choosing the right refrigerants, it is also important that the heat exchangers themselves are as efficient as they can be. The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) administers the only third-party performance certification programme verifying thermal performance in plate heat exchangers.
If all heat exchangers used in district cooling systems were certified by AHRI, that would save 164 TWh of electrical power and eliminate 80 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, or equivalent to the amount of energy it takes 16,500 wind turbines to produce.
For more information on how to navigate the world of refrigeration equipment and refrigerants, take a look at our website:

  • Patrick Kiash

    38 w

    Very educative article and I like the solutions offered that eliminate over 80 millions tones of CO2emmissions annually.

    • Johannes Luiga

      40 w

      Alfa Laval is truly a Climate Leader!

      • Adam Wallin

        40 w

        We need to think ahead when planning our climate actions, and making sure we can cool ourselves more efficiently will certainly be needed in the future. If we can combine this with other solutions like passive homes, shading and alternative building materials we should be able to make our homes livable and sustainable.

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