World’s Hottest Market

India is poised for an explosion in room air conditioning that may require as many as 300 new electric power plants in the next 10 to 15 years, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory specialist in international energy.

The country is likewise poised to avoid the costs of such an explosion—including billions of tons of carbon pollution—by deploying new air conditioners that are super efficient, that use refrigerants friendly to the climate, and that are powered by renewable energy, said Nikit Abhyankar, a senior scientific engineering associate at LBL.

“All the cities are very hot and very populous, which means that going forward, as people get richer, the demand for room air conditioning is going to be increasing,” said Abhyankar said in an April seminar hosted by the Stanford Precourt Institute of Energy. Stanford released video of the seminar Friday.

“ACs are the first appliance people want to buy when they cross a certain income threshold.”

Millions of Indians are expected to cross that threshold in the next 10-15 years, so analysts expect demand for room air-conditioner demand akin to the surge in China around the turn of the millennium. Urban Chinese purchased 200 million room air conditioners in 15 years, creating—with just one appliance—300 GW of electric demand, the equivalent of six Californias.

In India, air conditioning is expected to double the country’s electricity demand in 15 years, requiring 200-300 new electric plants for that one appliance. Air conditioning is part of the reason India is expected to be the world’s largest contributor to new electricity demand between now and 2040.

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