India's Demand For Electricity For ACs To Exceed Total Power Consumption Of Africa: IEA

By PTI October 25, 2023

In its latest World Energy Outlook, IEA said India will see the largest energy demand growth of any country or region in the world over the next three decades

India's Demand For Electricity For ACs To Exceed Total Power Consumption Of Africa: IEA
The ownership of air conditioners in India has been steadily increasing, tripling since 2010 to reach 24 units per 100 households. Shutterstock

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that India's demand for electricity to power household air conditioners is anticipated to surge nine-fold by 2050, surpassing the total power consumption of the entire African continent today. This revelation came as part of the IEA's latest World Energy Outlook.

India is predicted to experience the most substantial growth in energy demand among all countries and regions worldwide over the next thirty years. According to IEA projections, India's energy supply will increase from 42 exajoules (EJ) in 2022 to 53.7 EJ in 2030 and 73 EJ in 2050 under the stated policy scenarios. However, under announced pledges, these figures are estimated at 47.6 EJ by 2030 and 60.3 EJ by 2050.

Regarding oil demand, the IEA forecasts it to rise from 5.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2022 to 6.8 million bpd in 2030 and 7.8 million bpd in 2050 under the stated policy scenarios. In contrast, under announced pledges, the demand is expected to reach 6.2 million bpd in 2030 and 4.7 million bpd in 2050.

India has witnessed over 700 heatwave events in the past five decades, resulting in over 17,000 fatalities. The ownership of air conditioners in India has been steadily increasing, tripling since 2010 to reach 24 units per 100 households.

The IEA highlighted the significant impact of cooling needs on electricity consumption, especially as temperatures rise above 25 degrees Celsius. Space cooling accounted for a 21 percent increase in electricity consumption between 2019 and 2022, with nearly 10 percent of electricity demand attributed to space cooling requirements.

The ownership of household air conditioners is projected to grow ninefold by 2050, outpacing the growth of other major household appliances like televisions, refrigerators, and washing machines. In the Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS), residential electricity demand from cooling is estimated to increase ninefold by 2050.

Under this scenario, India's total electricity demand from residential air conditioners is anticipated to exceed the total electricity consumption in the entirety of Africa today.

In the Announced Pledges Scenario (APS), the electricity demand for air conditioners in 2050 is nearly 15 percent lower compared to the STEPS due to the increased use of energy-efficient air conditioners and thermal insulation in buildings. This reduction is even larger than the total electricity generation of several countries today, such as the Netherlands.

The growing ownership and usage of air conditioners and cooling equipment are major contributors to the rising peak electricity demand in India. In the STEPS, peak electricity demand is projected to increase by around 60 percent from the 2022 level by 2030, with cooling accounting for nearly half of this increase.

However, in the APS, measures such as the implementation of building codes, the adoption of more efficient appliances, and the use of demand response methods result in lower peak electricity demand growth by nearly one-quarter compared to the STEPS. This reduction helps reduce electricity investment requirements and system costs, given that the electricity system is designed to meet peak demand.

Although solar PV aligns well with daytime cooling needs, significant cooling demand exists in India during the late evening and at night. Therefore, reducing cooling demand through energy efficiency policies diminishes the need for investments in batteries or expensive standby generation capacity, facilitating more cost-effective integration of renewables.

India is entering a new phase in its energy development marked by a long-term net-zero emissions target, regulatory advancements, clean energy deployment, and the development of domestic clean energy technology supply chains. The country has announced a net-zero emissions goal by 2070 and has established policies to expand clean energy supply and clean technology manufacturing.

Clean energy investment in India is projected to more than double in the STEPS by 2030, from approximately USD 60 billion in 2022. To align with its net-zero emissions target, India needs to nearly triple its clean energy investment by the end of this decade, as reflected in the APS.

India's urban population is expected to grow by 74 percent, and per capita income will triple by 2050, while industrial output is set to expand rapidly. The demand for oil, natural gas, and coal will also rise significantly in the STEPS.

However, in the APS, with increased clean energy investment, solar power generation will surpass 50 percent, and India will achieve its target of 50 percent non-fossil power generation capacity by 2030. As a result, CO2 emissions in the APS are projected to decline by over 40 percent from current levels by 2050, even as the country's GDP quadruples over this period.