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India’s electricity demand to run household ACs to surge nine-fold by 2050

India will see the largest energy demand growth of any country or region in the world over the next three decades

India’s electricity demand to run household ACs to surge nine-fold by 2050
[Source photo: Pankaj Kirdatt/Press Insider]

India’s demand for electricity for running household air conditioners is estimated to expand nine-fold by 2050 and will exceed total power consumption in the whole of Africa today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. 

In its latest world energy outlook, IEA projected India’s energy supply to rise from 42 exajoules (EJ) in 2022 to 53.7 EJ in 2030, and 73 EJ in 2050 under stated policies scenarios (SPS), and 47.6 EJ by 2030 and 60.3 EJ by 2050 as per announced pledges.

India will see the largest energy demand growth of any country or region in the world over the next three decades, the study said. 

Similarly, oil demand is estimated 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 SPS. Under announced pledges, this demand is seeking 6.2 million BPD in 2030 and 4.7 million BPD in 2050.

Air condition ownership in India has been steadily increasing with growing income, tripling since 2010 to reach 24 units per 100 households. The rising demand for air conditions in India is fueled by its geographic and meteorological conditions. India witnessed over 700 heatwave events in the past five decades, claiming over 17,000 lives. 

The impact of cooling needs on electricity consumption is already clear, the study said.

Electricity demand is sensitive to temperatures and in India’s case, there is a sharp increase in demand as temperatures cross the 25-degree Celsius threshold, the report said.

The growth in ownership and use of air conditioners and other cooling equipment is one of the key drivers of the increase in peak electricity demand in India. Electricity consumption due to space cooling increased by 21% between 2019 and 2022, and today nearly 10 % of electricity demand comes from space cooling requirements.

“Household air conditioner ownership is estimated to expand nine-fold by 2050 across the IEA scenarios, outpacing the growth in ownership of every other major household appliance including television, refrigerators, and washing machines.” the report said.

In the announced pledges scenario (APS), however, electricity demand for air conditioners is nearly 15% lower in 2050 than it is in the SPS as a result of the increased use of energy-efficient air conditioners and thermal insulation in buildings. This reduction, according to the study, itself is larger than the total electricity generation by several countries such as that of the Netherlands.

In the SPS, peak electricity demand will rise around 60 % from the 2022 level by 2030, and cooling accounts for nearly half of this increase.

The biggest consumers of electricity today are the buildings and industry sectors, which together account for over 90% of global electricity consumption, the study said. 

However, in the APS category, the implementation of building codes, the use of more efficient appliances, and the adoption of demand response measures enable the same cooling needs to be met with less energy. Although solar PV matches well with daytime cooling needs, cooling demand is also significant in India during the late evening and at night.

“Lowering cooling demand through energy efficiency policies therefore reduces the need for investment in batteries or expensive standby generation capacity, thus helps to integrate renewables more cost-effectively,” the study said.

“Appliances, cooking, cooling, and heating account for most consumption in buildings, and electricity demand increases for all of them in our projections, especially in emerging markets and developing economies. Industrial electricity demand continues to rise as industrial output increases, mostly in emerging market and developing economies, and as policies to reduce emissions encourage the electrification of industrial equipment,” it said. 

Technologies essential to clean electricity systems need to scale up rapidly for electrification to proceed at the pace necessary to meet the energy and climate pledges made by governments around the world.

However, there are risks that could delay or impede the deployment of some of the key technologies that are needed. The report notes that it is critical to have sufficient policy support and enabling regulatory frameworks, efficient and timely permitting and certification, while developing robust and resilient supply chains, from raw materials to manufacturing and construction and skilled labor to ensuring access to financing.

Reducing the costs of financing and having predictability for revenues or cost savings are also important for rapid electrification. Each technology has its unique risk profile, which may threaten its role in clean electrification. Progress in one technology may depend on progress in others. The lower these risks are across the board, the better the chance to deliver secure and affordable transitions, calling on governments and industry to take action.


Javaid Naikoo is a senior correspondent at Press Insider. A seasoned and analytical journalist, Javaid covers economy and policy from New Delhi. He has reported on politics, business and social issues in the past, and also has a keen interest in photojournalism. His compelling words and art have appeared across domestic and global publications. More

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