The energy challenge in the thermal comfort sector

The thermal comfort sector faces major technological challenges for future environmental and social well-being. Indeed, every year, both residential and commercial global consumption of primary energy increases proportionally to the social, economic and industrial development of emerging countries, which adds to the already significant consumption of Western countries.

The future scenario

The most recent estimates on the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere globally, as a direct consequence of energy consumption, show an increase from 32.2 Gton/year in 2016 to around 44 Gton/ year in 2040, based on the currennt scenario. Such an increase would put environmental sustainability at serious risk.

As an example, in Europe alone, energy consumption and its related emissions are driven by three main areas of usage: 24% is attributable to the industrial sector, 27% to transportation and 28% to residential and commercial thermal comfort. The impact of thermal comfort is particularly evident in connection with residential energy consumption. On average, final energy consumption for residential heating accounts for approximately 65% of total consumption and that rises to 80% if we factor in energy consumed for the heating of water.

According to the 2016 report of the International Energy Agency, if we consider the total number of possible areas of intervention for curbing CO2 emissions by 2040, 37% derives from the energy efficiency of products used by end users.

The importance of energy efficiency

More efficient products can contribute to reducing substantially the forecast increase in annual emissions. Innovative efficient products and processes can make a decisive contribution to reducing energy consumption and environmental impact without sacrificing comfort.

In addition, the thermal comfort sector is constantly evolving and is heavily linked both to technological innovation and to the decisions taken by legislators/standards bodies in various countries around the world; even with reference solely to the European market, there are various standards, directives and regulations promulgated by the European Commission for this purpose (Renewable Energy Directive, Energy Efficiency in Buildings, ErP regulation, etc.), which propose or impose more energy-efficient technological systems based on the use of renewable energy sources.

ATIT’s ability to combine energy efficiency, sustainability and innovation, will contribute to the shaping of the future of the thermal comfort industry.

The role of ATIT

In this context, Ariston Thermo has placed energy efficiency and technologies that utilise renewable energy at the heart of its sustainable growth strategy. Thus, in 2016, Ariston Thermo Innovative Technologies (ATIT) opened in Lombardy, just outside Milan. It is a world-class hub for the research and development of cutting-edge, high-efficiency solutions in the field of thermal comfort, including those using energy from renewable sources. The ready availability of expertise in the energy and thermodynamic sector, as well as the presence of the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan) as a centre of excellence and a place of meeting, were decisive factors that led the Group to establish the research centre in the capital of Lombardy, right next to the Politecnico. Ariston Thermo Innovative Technologies is one of the largest concentrations in Italy of research personnel focused on the development of heat pump technologies.

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