Witnesses giving evidence to the Birmingham Energy Institute policy commission said there was a risk of apathy towards efficiency in the refrigeration and cooling markets.

Birmingham Energy Institute director Professor Martin Freer said the commission’s latest meeting had made it clear more investment was needed for sustainable cold energy innovations.

“We can achieve the country’s ambitious carbon reduction targets but only if we invest in these sustainable innovations,” said Professor Freer. “The government must take cold seriously instead of focusing solely on heating.”

Snowballing demand

In the UK 70% of food is chilled or frozen, with demand for commodities expected to rise by around 30% in the coming decade. The need for cooling technology, from healthcare to data centres, is expected to continue to grow.

Tesco group engineering and energy standards manager Robert Hurley told the commission supermarkets needed to take sustainable cooling seriously in order to meet ambitious emissions targets: “We will best achieve our stretching aspiration if we work with the supply base and procure not only by capital cost but also life cycle and sustainable alternatives, that could provide both economic and environmental savings in the long term.”

Out in the cold

Pat Maughan, managing director of refrigeration company Hubbard, told the commission reducing leakage from refrigerators was a promising route to reducing pollution and energy usage.

Maughan also called on the government to make energy efficiency a priority: “We need clear direction from government on where the future lies for carbon reduction priorities to provide a boost in the market and to further develop these solutions. There’s reluctance among many companies at the moment who aren’t taking the targets seriously.”

The Birmingham Energy Institute commission will continue to hear evidence on the future of cold energy ahead of its final recommendations later this year. Commission chair Lord Robin Teverson added: “There’s significant opportunity in the UK to develop a new economic hub of innovative manufacturing and technology, as well as positioning ourselves as leaders of this field on the world stage.”

A recent report last year from the Carbon Trust estimated developing cold technologies could create more than 10,000 jobs in the UK in the next ten years. 

Matt Field

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