The air conditioning industry is booming

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Thursday is expected to be 38 degrees. More and more consumers are buying air conditioners. They are already available from 50 euros.

With temperatures of over 38 degrees the high summer is back in Germany. “Thursday could mark the peak of the heat wave as things stand,” a spokesman for the German Weather Service (DWD) said in Offenbach on Sunday. Cool air from air conditioners is good on hot days, but so far they are not widespread in Germany. Public facilities or office buildings are rarely tempered. The German infrastructure has not yet been designed for hot temperatures, says climate researcher Friederike Otto: “This leads to train cancellations, and in addition, electricity consumption rises massively. It is imperative that we consider how we should build the infrastructure so that we can cope with high temperatures.”

According to the Essen-based economic research institute RWI, only four percent of German households are equipped with built-in air conditioners. Fans are available much more frequently as a cheaper alternative. The record weather in June boosted sales of wind turbines. Some models were temporarily out of stock. “With every heat wave, more people decide to buy an air conditioning system,” says Tanja Kenkmann from the Öko-Institut in Freiburg. By 2030, 13 percent of households could have a built-in air conditioner.

Cheap variants

The spread of air-conditioning systems will also increase in the non-residential sector, says Thomas Damm from the General Air Technology Association in the German Engineering Federation. For example in the food industry or in rooms with many servers whose heat must be dissipated. The climatic change promises decent growth rates to the cold climatic industry.
Public institutions usually rely on central air-conditioning systems. We cover around 60 percent of the European market and are the market leader in Europe,” says Günther Mertz, Managing Director of the Fachverband Gebäude-Klima (FGK). For new construction projects, these systems will be part of the basic equipment in the future.
So far, consumers have opted for low-cost variants. Around 200,000 mobile ventilation systems have already been sold this year. In 2017, only 170,000 units were sold this year. The advantage of the low-cost air-conditioning systems from the retail trade is that they are immediately ready for use. They are already available from 50 euros.
Disadvantage: They often work with liquid refrigerants, which contribute to global warming. The harmful older refrigerant R410A is to be banned from 2025. Alternative R290 propane systems are also harmful. According to the IEA, ten percent of the electricity generated worldwide is already used for cooling.

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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