Urgent Action Needed for Energy Transition in Heating & Cooling, says Study

The new study by leading energy organisations highlighted the benefits, identifies investment barriers, as well as the policies to drive faster uptake of renewable heating and cooling worldwide.

December 01, 2020. By Manu Tayal

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The transition to cleaner, more sustainable heating and cooling solutions can attract investment, create millions of new jobs and help to drive a durable economic recovery in the wake of the global COVID-19 crisis, said the new joint report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).

The new study by leading energy organisations highlighted the benefits, identifies investment barriers, as well as the policies to drive faster uptake of renewable heating and cooling worldwide.

‘Renewable Energy Policies in a Time of Transition: Heating and Cooling’ describes 5 possible transformation pathways, encompassing renewables-based electrification, renewable gases, sustainable biomass, and direct uses of solar thermal and geothermal heat.

Commenting on the new study, Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA said that “energy efficient heating and cooling based on renewable sources has emerged as an urgent priority for countries striving to meet climate commitments under the Paris Agreement and to build resilient, sustainable economies.”

“The transition to cleaner, more efficient and sustainable heating and cooling solutions can attract investments, create millions of new jobs and help to drive a durable economic recovery in the wake of the global COVID-19 crisis. It will make much needed heating and cooling services available to everyone, including to remote islands and least-developed countries of Africa and Asia,” La Camera further said.

As per the report, heating and cooling demand accounts for around half of global final energy consumption, mostly for industrial processes, followed by residential and agricultural applications. Most of this energy now comes either from fossil fuels or inefficient, unsustainable uses of biomass, it further mentioned.

Heating and cooling, consequently, is a major source of air pollution and accounts for over 40 per cent of global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. At the same time, around 2.8 billion people currently rely on wood fuel, charcoal, animal dung and other inefficient and polluting fuels for cooking.   

The study further mentioned that, policy makers have so far given limited attention to the heating and cooling transition.

In order to decarbonise the energy used for heating and cooling, aggressive and comprehensive policy packages that phase out the use of fossil fuels and prioritise renewable energy and efficiency are even more urgent amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cut demand for renewables-based heating and cooling services, including in households and small businesses.

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