Rwanda’s new cool endeavour

Demand for cooling and refrigeration in Rwanda is projected to soar as the population and economy continue to grow amidst a warming climate: the number of household refrigerators and A/C units is expected to increase substantially in the next 15 years.

However, current cooling systems carry hidden costs: not only are they often inefficient – wasting up to 80 per cent of their energy – they also use human-made fluorinate gases (F-gases) such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as cooling agents. F-gases are almost 10,000 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide and are projected to represent nearly 20 percent of climate pollution by 2050, if left unchecked.

In Rwanda, UN Environment’s United for Efficiency initiative wants to help transition the local refrigeration and air conditioning market toward more efficient and climate-friendly products. The Rwanda Cooling Initiative (R-COOL) is funded by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP). The scope of R-COOL is to develop and help implement a National Cooling Strategy for Rwanda.

Once in effect, the National Cooling Strategy will help save consumers and businesses money on their electricity bills, reduce peak electricity demand, and expand the capacity of the grid for new consumers. In a warming climate, these are quite important results: studies have shown that a 1.2°C increase in temperature results in a three-fold increase in energy consumption of buildings, most of which is used for cooling.

Better refrigeration and a more effective cold chain would also help prevent food spoilage. The agriculture sector accounts for 31 per cent of Rwanda’s GDP, yet 50 per cent of its production goes to waste, causing smallholder farmers to lose up to 15 per cent of their income.

As the country adds ever more households to the electricity grid – now at approximately 40 per cent of the population today with aims to grow three-fold over the next decade – the project will also help ensure that existing electrical generating capacity is able to reach more people, since less of it will be wasted by outdated cooling products.

Full article: UN environment



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