US$3m cooling technology competition launched
The demand for residential air conditioning is increasing, and a two-year international competition is encouraging innovators to develop more energy-efficient cooling technology that can save 100 GT of carbon emissions by 2050.
The Global Cooling Prize offers a US$3 million award to those who develop a residential cooling solution with a climate impact that is at least five times (5X) less than today’s standard room air conditioner (RAC) units.
By 2030, over half of the world’s population will live in hot climates, and a further 3.3 billion RAC units will be installed globally by 2050. The rising demand for air conditioning, particularly in developing countries such as India, will put a strain on the electricity grid and consume large amounts of energy.
According to a report by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), RACs alone could potentially add about 132 GT of carbon emissions between now and 2050, and the most advanced RACs currently available have reached only 14% of maximum theoretical efficiency. It is hoped the new technology uses between four and five times less energy, and has one-fifth of the climate impact (grid-supplied electricity and refrigerant global warming potential together).
As well as preventing significant amounts of carbon emissions, the report said this technology can help mitigate up to 0.5°C of global warming by 2100, while enhancing living conditions around the globe. It also has the potential to avoid up to 5900 TWh/year in demand in 2050, which is equal to two times the annual generation of electricity within the European Union.
“A technology developed through the Global Cooling Prize has the opportunity to capture a US$20 billion market and transform the global market for the better,” said Iain Campbell, Senior Fellow at RMI.
Applications are open for the two-year competition, which offers at least US$2 million in intermediate prize money to support prototype development by shortlisted teams. After the prototypes have been tested for performance in both laboratory and real-world conditions in a heat-stressed city in India, the winner will be awarded at least US$1 million to support commercialisation and scaling of the technology.
“The Government of India supports this innovation challenge, which aims to develop sustainable and efficient technology to provide thermal comfort to all, and invites applicants from around the world to apply for The Global Cooling Prize,” said Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan at the Global Cooling Innovation Summit.
The website specifies the winning solution will need to operate within predefined constraints on refrigerant characteristics, materials, water consumption, full-load power consumption and maintenance requirements, as well as remaining affordable for consumers.
The prize — which is part of Mission Innovation’s Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings Innovation Challenge — will be administered by RMI, Conservation X Labs, the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) and CEPT University, with high-level leadership, guidance and support from the Indian Government’s Department of Science and Technology and other major funders.
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