Energy use for air conditioners (ACs) in ASEAN countries increased 7.5 times over 30 years, equivalent to South Korea’s annual household electricity consumption.
At the same time, AC ownership in the region remains low in comparison to many developed economies with less challenging climates, suggesting significant potential for market growth.
Access to affordable cooling is key to the economic and social development objectives of ASEAN countries. Policies are needed to ensure increased access to cooling is sustainable for energy systems and the climate.
Based on current and planned policies in the Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS), ASEAN countries will need to add an additional 200 GW of capacity by 2040, roughly equivalent to Germany’s total current electricity capacity, to meet growing energy demand from ACs.
In the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), deploying more efficient ACs, along with other efficient equipment and building efficiency improvements, would permit ASEAN countries to save 110 TWh of electricity by 2040, nearly equivalent to the current electricity production of Malaysia, Philippines and Viet Nam combined.
ASEAN governments have scope to significantly raise their minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for ACs in line with the SDS, without harming local industry or raising costs for consumers.
A gradual ‘ratcheting up’ of MEPS, resulting in an increase in AC efficiency standards over time, has been successful in several countries. The IEA recommends a medium term (2030) target for all ASEAN countries to establish MEPS at almost double today’s levels. This medium term target should be paired with a long term target to reach an average market efficiency by 2040 in line with the SDS.
International best practice in procurement, harmonised efficiency standards for motors and product registration systems offer valuable precedents for ASEAN country efforts to increase AC efficiency.
Regional coordination and national cooling action plans, which cover other sources of cooling energy use such as refrigeration, are recommended for consideration by ASEAN countries.
In addition to increasing AC efficiency, cooling needs to be considered holistically to include building design, consumer engagement and private sector innovation.
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