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UK bids for leadership in cold technology

Toby Peters: “Cold is vital to the way we live our lives today and to address the challenges of tomorrow

UK: Lord Teverson is to chair a major new research project investigating more sustainable refrigeration and air conditioning around the world.

The University of Birmingham has today launched a new policy commission entitled Doing Cold Smarter. It will investigate 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.

Recognising that the provision of cold is a vital foundation of modern society, the project leaders admit that compared to electricity, transport and heat, cold and cooling has received little attention in the international energy debate.

Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change spokesperson Lord Teverson, commented: “I have taken on the role as chair of this exciting policy commission because cold is a vital part of energy policy for the future, but that has been little explored.

“The demand for cooling is rising globally, and if we fill this urgent need with existing technologies it would have a detrimental effect, not only on the environment, but also for our energy supply.

“Bringing together experts, policy makers and innovators around one table will enable us to work out how to tackle these issues sustainably and in the process provide much-needed manufacturing and engineering jobs for the UK.”

In the UK, cooling is estimated to consume up to 14% of Britain’s electricity output and £5.2bn per year is spent on energy for cold across the grid and transport. The project leaders recognise that 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.

The commission says it 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.

This policy commission will also investigate ways the UK could become a global leader in the development of new cold energy systems, the technical, economic, research and skills issues around cold and the potential economic and environmental impacts.

The commission leaders say they they will invite 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. Potential topics could include greater recycling of waste energy, including waste cold to supply cooling; 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

Visiting Professor of Cold and Power at the University of Birmingham, Toby Peters, who is leading the commission, said: “Cold is vital to the way we live our lives today and to address the challenges of tomorrow. But it is all too often overlooked. This commission will address that myopia and will focus attention on how we can meet problems such as feeding growing populations and distributing medicine, without causing environmental or societal damage.”

Related stories:

UK must invest in “cold economy” – February 16, 2015
UK: The influential Carbon Trust claims that the “cold economy” has been neglected and calls for investment in new cooling technologies, research, apprenticeships and training. Read more…

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