The air conditioning industry - part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) sector - is set to be a power player for 2019 and beyond.
If you’re focused on professional and technical careers in air conditioning, here are five useful facts to know about the area in general.
A warming planet and a growing middle class population is triggering a huge increase in global demand for cooling equipment, with global sales predicted to rise from £110bn in 2018 to £204bn by 2050.
In a warming climate, air conditioning (AC) can save lives - and heatwaves are predicted to become increasingly intense around the world.
Maintaining indoor temperatures that are cool enough for human health and comfort is set to become even more pressing, whether that’s in residential homes, workplaces, supermarkets, hospitals and factories, cars or public transport.
Much of the food we eat is chilled or frozen, and medicines and vaccines also need to be kept refrigerated.
Anyone who experienced the UK’s high temperatures last summer won’t be surprised that there’s an upwards trend in Europe, too.
Experts believe that the market for small residential split AC units in the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Russia will have seen a growth in volume of up to 25% during the long, hot summer of 2018.
Many of us are used to air conditioning in cars and commercial businesses. However, it’s now likely that more and more UK homes will demand extra cooling, including new-builds.
Air conditioning keeps people cool and saves lives on our warming planet. Ironically, it also has a role to play in global warming itself.
One challenge is the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in cooling technology, which produces greenhouse gases far more toxic than carbon dioxide.
At the start of 2019, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol came into force. This commits the 197 nations who’ve signed it - including the UK - to produce and use less HFCs.
Energy use is another gnarly issue. In the future, the planet is set to consume more energy for cooling than heating and studies predict that the energy needed for cooling appliances will rise a massive 90% by 2050.
Cooling equipment is still currently mainly powered by burning climate-warming fossil fuels, and recent research by the University of Wisconsin–Madison suggests that if this continues it could further lessen air quality and compound the risks of air pollution on human health.
With the issue of climate change now even more pressing, the cooling industry is wrestling with the environmental impact of its products.
Manufacturers are trying to find proper solutions to AC climate challenges, with an increased focus on developing more sustainable and efficient cooling systems.
The built environment industry plays a key role in this. New building control and environmental performance regulations have triggered a fresh emphasis on better building design to make the cooling process as efficient as possible.
So how do these facts affect you if you work in the cooling sector, or plan to?
You may be a refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) engineer in charge of designing, installing and maintaining systems. You might work in sales or business development, helping clients find the most energy-efficient systems for their needs. Or you could specialise in a R&D role at the forefront of bringing bring more energy-efficient air conditioning equipment to market.
At RHL, we’re seeing a rise in the number of specialist refrigeration and air conditioning roles we recruit for.
Cutting-edge technology and the Internet of Things is boosting demand for engineering, electronic and IT skills, in particular. As new regulations come on board there’s also set to be far more training and development in the years to come.
The end result? This is one sector fully justified in calling itself the coolest to work in.