Investment in the development of sustainable cooling technologies is vital to reduce high levels of food wastage, according to The Carbon Trust.

In its report ‘The Emerging Cold Economy’, released today, the Trust calls for the UK to become a world leader in innovative and sustainable low carbon cooling technologies, as global power demand for cooling is set to grow by the equivalent of three times the currently electricity capacity of the UK by 2030.

It claims that demand is in part fuelled by the growing need to reduce levels of food waste, in particular in developing countries where up to half of perishable foods rot before reaching the market due to the absence of a “cold chain”. This “cold chain” of refrigerated warehouses and vehicles is vital in preserving food from farm to consumer, the report adds.

It estimates 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.

“Delivering cold to where it is most needed requires research across technical, business and policy areas,” said Professor Richard Williams, head of the college of engineering and physical sciences at the University of Birmingham.

“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.”

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.