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Last edited 10 May 2022
Air conditioning inflation and supply chain crisis
As economies worldwide have been recovering from contraction, restrictions and lockdowns, the air conditioning market has continued to stabilise, and growth has been recorded for most segments in 2021 around the globe. However, in the short term, inflation and supply chain crisis remain primary concerns.
The unprecedented challenges experienced by markets due to the pandemic have had far-reaching effects for the chiller market. The shortages of semi-conductors, raw materials and rising shipping costs have all added to the difficulties facing manufacturers. There is now a demand for greater air quality products such as air cleaning/filtering features and higher energy efficiency. Moreover, during the pandemic some verticals such as hospitality, retail and aviation sector investments declined significantly, leaving a gap in the market for non-residential products.
The downturn has encouraged companies to investigate expansion in process cooling and heating technologies. Furthermore, major economies signing up to the Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 commitment is driving the sale of electric heating and cooling products, especially heat pump chillers*.
The chart illustrates a general overall recovery of 9% in 2021 as the chiller market made up for losses during the pandemic. It predicts a lesser rate in 2022 as the market returns to more normal levels.
 Cooling-only versus heat pumps
In the US, screw chillers continue to dominate the market, but the oil-free centrifugal market is seeing the fastest growth albeit from a low base. Even though most chillers remain cooling-only, there has been recent interest in heat pumps, although this is confined to select regions in the US.
In Canada there has been a slow recovery after the market fall in 2020. The use of heat pumps in Canada is very limited because of the climate conditions. The efficiency of heat pumps declines when outside temperatures fall below freezing.
 Asia and Oceania
The Indian air conditioning market is on the road to recovery in 2021/2022 after a devastating drop for 2020 sales. The heat pump segment is currently almost negligible, except for some parts of the country (mostly in the north), where heat pump mode is used in the hospitality sector and, since very recently, in the health sector. Water-cooled heat pumps are also sometimes used in process cooling.
In Australia, the 2-pipe AC Heat Pump is increasing its share of the market. Comfort cooling has the greater share of chiller sales. Data Centres form the largest share of the process market. There is a market for other process applications in Queensland and Western Australia, where there are mines. Melbourne also has a bit of process in the plastics industry.
In Indonesia, there are not many heat pump installations as there are few applications for them. Some screw chillers, installed in some hotels, have a heating function, but otherwise all units are cooling-only. There has been further market decline in the second year of the pandemic.
 Middle East and Africa
In Saudi, the chiller market has been suffering in the last several years due to a lack of larger projects and cash flow problems of construction companies. Heat pumps started appearing on the market very recently; however, the actual sales are currently very small. Consultants have increasingly started including heat pump specifications for hospitals and hotels, following the trend coming from Europe.
In France, the chiller market was supported by subsidies. The proportion of screw chillers used in process applications and data centres is estimated to be over 75%. The Spanish chiller market returned to growth in 2021, after suffering steep losses in the previous year. In Germany, the chiller market in 2021 began recovering in most segments but did not return to the sales level of 2019. Most chillers are for comfort cooling; the rest are used in process cooling.
The new reports offer a more comprehensive picture of the market by including analysis by compressor type and kW size. The reports also include a breakdown of Inverter vs. Non-Inverter type and market leaders by compressor type. The new output contains analysis by cooling-only or heat pump applications. Previously, most chiller sales were comfort cooling only applications, and although there has always been a mixed use, manufacturers could not separate sales of their comfort cooling chillers from process applications. As there are constant changes in the use of refrigerants, there is a section on the type of refrigerant used by compressor type.
First evidenced in the Asia Pacific Regional study at the beginning of the year, the additional data is now included in BSRIA’s Global Worldwide Air Conditioning (WWAC) market reports to be published at the end of April 2022. Results are available at a global, regional, or country level, focusing on 2021 with forecast by product to 2026.
This article first appeared on the BSRIA News website in May 2022 entitled: 'Air conditioning market: Inflation and supply chain crisis remain primary concerns'
- Absorption refrigeration.
- Africa tops world AC growth forecasts.
- Air conditioning in non-domestic buildings.
- Air conditioning inspection (energy performance regulations).
- Air conditioning inspection procedure.
- Air handling unit.
- BREEAM Impact of refrigerants.
- BSRIA completes 2021 World Air Conditioning market studies.
- BSRIA: new Global Air Conditioning Market Studies.
- Building Automation and Control System BACS.
- Chilled beam.
- Chiller units.
- Chilled water.
- Cooling systems for buildings.
- Complex system.
- Data centres.
- Designing HVAC to resist harmful microorganisms.
- Evaporative cooling.
- Fan coil unit.
- Fresh air.
- Global Air Conditioning Study 2016.
- Growing focus on IAQ challenges for specifiers and HVAC manufacturers.
- Heat recovery.
- How to Use Your Air Conditioning Energy Assessments to Reduce Energy Costs.
- HVAC balancing.
- IAQ developments accelerated by COVID-19 pandemic.
- Local air conditioning.
- Thermal comfort.
- Underfloor air conditioning at London Grade II listed landmark.
- US among top 2020 global variable refrigerant flow markets.
- Variable air volume VAV.
- Variable refrigerant flow VRF.
- When hospital buildings aren’t healthy.
- Workplace air conditioning.
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