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Open AccessArticle

Staying Cool in A Warming Climate: Temperature, Electricity and Air Conditioning in Saudi Arabia

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King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC), P.O. Box 88550, Riyadh 11672, Saudi Arabia
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Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) 4700, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Climate 2020, 8(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli8010004
Received: 26 November 2019 / Revised: 26 December 2019 / Accepted: 28 December 2019 / Published: 3 January 2020
As global temperatures warm and populations and incomes rise, the demand for cooling will soar, creating a positive feedback loop between global warming and electricity-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This study explores the relationship between temperature, electricity, air conditioning (AC) and CO2 emissions, and the sustainability of cooling in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With the highest share of AC in household electricity consumption in the world and its already very hot summers warming by 3 °C in many areas over the last 40 years, Saudi Arabia provides an important case study of how the cooling challenge can be managed. Data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF ERA5) is used to illustrate local warming trends (1979–2018) and show the relationship between temperature and power generation within a typical year using hourly data (2011–2015). Using annual data (2010–2018), we then show that since 2016 the rapid growth in the Kingdom’s electricity demand for AC and its associated CO2 emissions have plateaued. This suggests energy efficiency measures, higher electricity prices and a shift from the use of oil towards gas in the power sector are having a positive effect on energy sustainability. We identify key policies and technologies that will be important for the sustainable use of cooling in Saudi Arabia and beyond. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; adaptation; mitigation; energy efficiency; electricity pricing climate change; adaptation; mitigation; energy efficiency; electricity pricing
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MDPI and ACS Style

Howarth, N.; Odnoletkova, N.; Alshehri, T.; Almadani, A.; Lanza, A.; Patzek, T. Staying Cool in A Warming Climate: Temperature, Electricity and Air Conditioning in Saudi Arabia. Climate 2020, 8, 4.

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