A global coalition led by the Government of India along with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) recently announced the Finalists of the Global Cooling Prize, an international innovation competition to develop super-efficient and climate-friendly residential cooling solutions for homes. The competitors showcased technologies that reduce or eliminate refrigerants linked to climate change, advances that will be vital as the number of room air conditioners (RACs) nearly quadruples by 2050.
The Finalist teams are led by some of the world’s largest air conditioner (AC) manufacturers, including Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai, Daikin AirConditioning India Private Ltd., and Godrej and Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd.; start-ups and corporations, including S&S Design Startup Solution Pvt. Ltd., Transaera Inc., M2 Thermal Solutions, Kraton Corporation; and Barocal Ltd, a new spin-out from a University of Cambridge lab. The eight teams selected pitched a wide range of technologies, including smart hybrid designs of vapor-compression designs, evaporative cooling designs, and solid-state cooling technologies that use little or no global warming refrigerants.
“It gives me immense satisfaction to say that we have received some absolutely revolutionary cooling ideas,’’ said Sir Richard Branson, Founder and CEO of the Virgin Group and global Ambassador for the Prize. “What makes this competition especially exciting, is the market transformation opportunity. It could be one of the biggest technology-based steps we can take to arrest climate change. Congratulations to the finalists of the Global Cooling Prize. I look forward to following all of you on your journey to winning the Prize and scaling your solutions globally.”
Population growth, urbanization, and rising income levels, compounded by a warming planet, are driving unprecedented growth in demand for comfort cooling globally from 1.2 billion room air conditioners (RACs) in the world today, to a projected 4.5 billion by 2050. Innovation and new technologies in the cooling industry are especially crucial for India. For the next three decades, three RACs will be sold in markets around the globe every second. Under the business-as-usual scenario, a recent report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), suggests that productivity losses to the global economy from heat stress could reach $2.4 trillion a year — equivalent to 80 million full-time jobs. Lost productivity from extreme heat in India alone could exceed $450 billion by 2030. Although a mere 7 percent of households in India own ACs today, demand for comfort cooling is expected to drive the total stock to over 1 billion by 2050 — a 40-fold growth from 2016.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Government of India, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who awarded the finalists, said: “Innovation is the foundation for development and growth. This important initiative aligns with the objectives of the India Cooling Action Plan that the Government of India officially released this year to bolster our R&D efforts in global climate leadership and strengthens our commitment to accelerate clean energy innovation as part of Mission Innovation’s international platform.”
A global coalition led by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India; Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) — a leading global research institute; and Mission Innovation — a global initiative of 24 countries and the European Union to accelerate global clean energy innovation — launched the Global Cooling Prize in November 2018 with the aim of spurring the development of a radically more efficient, climate-friendly residential cooling solution. The initiative is also supported by Conservation X Labs, Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), and CEPT University, and a coalition of over 20 leading international non-profit organizations who have congratulated the Finalist teams through a special video, linked here.
RMI Chief Executive Officer Jules Kortenhorst highlighted the critical climate threat the world faces from the booming demand for comfort cooling. “The Residential / Room AC industry represents a 60-billion-dollar market today and is set to grow to nearly four times that size by 2050, he said. “The Prize initiates an era of transformation and global innovation for the cooling industry. A breakthrough technology has the potential to prevent up to 75 gigatons (GT) of CO2-equivalent emissions by 2050, whilst providing affordable access to cooling in parts of the world where it is becoming a critical need.”
Since the Prize was launched, over 2,100 participant registrations from around the globe have been submitted by innovators, start-ups, research institutes, universities, and key industry manufacturers in over 95 countries. Of the registered entities, 445 teams submitted preliminary ideas and 139 teams from 31 countries followed through with a full Detailed Technical Application to the Prize. The finalists have been awarded US$200,000 each to develop and ship their prototypes to India for testing in the summer of 2020.
The winner of the Global Cooling Prize will be announced in November of 2020 and awarded more than US$1 million in prize money.
To learn more about the Finalist teams and their technologies: HERE