UK could create 10,000 jobs by 2025 by leading the 'Cold Economy'

The Carbon Trust today launched ‘The Emerging Cold Economy’, a new report focusing on the increasing global demand for cooling and the opportunity for Britain to be a world leader in innovative low carbon cooling technologies.

The world’s expanding population and the growing middle class in emerging markets, is rapidly pushing up the demand for cooling. From buildings and supermarkets to data centres and medicine, the provision of cold is a vital foundation of modern society. By 2030 global power demand for cooling could grow by the equivalent of three times the current electricity capacity of the UK. At the same time, however, vast amounts of cold are wasted, for example during the re-gasification of LNG at import terminals, which could potentially be recycled to reduce the cost and environmental impact of cooling in both buildings and vehicles.

This insight has stimulated new thinking aimed at creating business and environmental value from the efficient integration of cold into the wider energy system, the “Cold Economy”.

Turning the Cold Economy from an idea into reality will depend on joined-up thinking and collaboration by industry, academia and government to develop, test and deploy novel solutions. With Britain’s rich history of innovation and engineering, we have a real opportunity to lead the way in low carbon cold technologies and drive innovative solutions from the lab to the market.

- David Sanders, Director, Innovation at the Carbon Trust

UK energy policy has until now been focused on transport, electricity and heat, little time has been spent on addressing the importance of cold. However, cooling consumes up to 14% of UK electricity, and the combined annual cost of electric and transport cooling in the UK is more than £5 billion. To turn this from a cost to the UK, to an opportunity, a full assessment of the potential of the Cold Economy needs to be carried out.

Within the The Emerging Cold Economy report, the Carbon Trust highlights the need for planning and investment to focus on three key areas: research and development; manufacturing; and skills.

  • Research to support the accelerated delivery of novel cold technologies across industry, buildings and transport.
  • Advanced cold manufacturing to deliver cost-effective new cold products in volume to market both at home and abroad – creating UK manufacturing leadership.
  • Apprenticeship and training that complements the innovation pipeline, meeting the manufacturing assembly, integration and after sales needs in a timely fashion.
Delivering cold to where it is most needed requires research across technical, business and policy areas. For example, the development of new materials and processes for efficient and cost-effective cooling and the creation of business systems models that seek to recognise the ‘value’ of cold. This will result in the creation of new policies for the UK and internationally. Birmingham has developed as the leading centre for the Cold Economy having made several leading academic appointments in this area and establishing the £12 million Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage. We aim to demonstrate deployment of associated new technologies and practices building on our research centres and see this as a significant area for growth in research, this in itself driving our regional economy.

- Professor Richard Williams OBE, FREng Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham

Britain has the potential to lead the way. A suite of low carbon cold technologies are already in development, and the UK has world-class capabilities in cryogenics, engineering, manufacturing and finance.

A growing hub of clean cold research and expertise has developed in the Midlands. This centres upon a group of companies and research organisations that are working to develop liquid air technologies, which can simultaneously provide zero emission cooling and power. These include Dearman; Hubbard Products Ltd; MIRA; MTC; Loughborough University; and the University of Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Research, the first of its kind. The emerging Midlands centre of excellence is an important step towards the development of a national cold economy.

Government and industry could make a strategic decision to take advantage of these favourable conditions and secure a global leadership role for the UK in this major potential growth market. Research suggests that supporting the development of cold technologies would create more than 10,000 jobs by 2025 and in excess of 25,000 jobs by 2050 across development, manufacturing and after-sales support.

Outside of the UK the demand for cold technologies is even greater. It is estimated that up to half of perishable food in developing countries rots before ever reaching the market, largely due to the absence of cold chains. It is estimated that food wastage occupies a land area the size of Mexico; consumes 250 km3 of water per year, three times the volume of Lake Geneva; and accounts for 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon emissions.

In Asia, where the demand for cooling is rising, the Indian government forecasts an investment need of $15 billion on its cold chain over the next five years, and in China, refrigerated storage capacity is on course to increase 20-fold by 2017.

Download the report here.




For further information please contact the Carbon Trust press office on 020 7170 7050 or email

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. The Carbon Trust:

  • advises businesses, governments and the public sector on opportunities in a sustainable, low-carbon world;
  • measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services;
  • helps develop and deploy low-carbon technologies and solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power