Population growth, urbanization, and rising income levels, compounded by a warming planet, are driving an unprecedented growth in demand for comfort cooling; from 1.2 billion room air conditioners (RACs) in the world today, to a projected 4.5 billion by 2050. RACs alone could add about 132 GT of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) emissions cumulatively between now and 2050. Sir Richard Branson noted that “if we don’t do something about the growing global impact of air conditioning on our climate today, it will derail our best attempts to meet the Paris Agreement goal on emissions” – keeping global temperatures less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. (See Viewpoint: How to Make ACs Cool, in this issue of the Journal – Managing Editor.)
It is projected that by 2050, non-OECD countries will see a five-fold increase in energy demand for air conditioners according to a new report by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) released on November 12, 2018. The report, ‘Solving the Global Cooling Challenge’, finds that comfort cooling within the residential sector alone could lead to an global temperature increase of 0.5°C by 2100 and calls for a cooling technology that has one-fifth the climate impact.
A global coalition — led by RMI, Conservation X Labs, Alliance for an Energy Effi cient Economy (AEEE), and CEPT University, Ahmedabad — has launched the Global Cooling Prize with the aim of spurring the development of a cooling technology that will have at least five times (5X) less climate impact than standard technology in operation today (considering both energy and refrigerant impacts). The competition, supported by Mission Innovation and the Government of India, was launched in November 2018. It will run for a period of two years, and disburse at least US$3 million in interim and final awards.
The Prize coalition will help identify the innovative cooling technology and support incubation, commercialization, and ultimately mass adoption around the world. “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 Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Environment, Forest and Climate Change at the Global Cooling Innovation Summit in New Delhi. A cooling technology developed through the Global Cooling Prize will not only address the critical climate threat from the increasing global use of RACs while improving public health and wellbeing of communities around the world, but can also provide a substantial market opportunity for innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, and AC manufacturers. “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, Rocky Mountain Institute. Scaling the winning solution could be one of the most effective technologyenabled steps we can take to mitigate climate change and provide cooling to all, without warming the planet.
To apply for the Global Cooling Prize and complete a preliminary application, visit www.globalcoolingprize.org/apply
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