$3 million Global Cooling Prize launched to find innovative, climate friendly, technologies for residential cooling

by CCAC secretariat - 19 November, 2018
The winning technology will receive $1 million to support incubation, and early-stage commercialisation.

A global competition worth $3 million was launched by the Indian Government, Mission Innovation, and the Rocky Mountain Institute on 12 November 2018 to find new technologies that can reduce the climate impact of the rapidly growing residential cooling sector.

The Global Cooling Prize, aims to incentivize the development of a residential cooling technology that will have at least five times less climate impact than current standard Room Air Conditioning (RAC) units. The winning air conditioning technology could prevent up to 100 gigatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions by 2050 and put the world on a pathway to prevent up to 0.5˚C of global warming by 2100.

Warming global temperatures, population growth, rising incomes, and urbanization will lead to an astounding five-fold increase in energy demand for room air conditioners in non-OECD countries, according to a new report by Rocky Mountain Institute. The report, ‘Solving the Global Cooling Challenge’ finds that business-as-usual measures whilst important are insufficient to overcome the impact of room air conditioning growth and calls for radically efficient air conditioners with five times less climate impact  (a 5x solution).

The growing demand for residential cooling necessitates a move to climate friendly and more energy efficient technologies. In a business-as-usual scenario, air conditioning units in use will rise from 1.2 billion to 4.5 billion by 2050. India alone will see over 1 billion air conditioning units deployed by 2050. This global increase in demand could add anywhere between 132 to 167 gigatons of CO2-equivalent emissions, cumulatively, between now and 2050.

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
Sir Richard Branson

"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. So, I congratulate the Indian government for driving such an ambitious effort to tackle the problem, and encourage all global entrepreneurs to take up this challenge today," said Sir Richard Branson, Global Cooling Prize Ambassador and Founder, Virgin Group.

Over US$3 million will be awarded in prize money over the course of the two-year competition. Up to 10 short-listed competing technologies will be awarded up to US$200,000 each in intermediate prizes to support the design and prototype development of their innovative residential cooling technology designs. The winning technology will be awarded at least US$1 million to support its incubation and early-stage commercialization.

To qualify for the prize the cooling technology being offered need to meet specific criteria relative to a baseline unit. These include:

  • Must have 5 times less climate impact than the baseline unit.
  • Must demonstrate cost potential at full industrialization of no more than twice the baseline unit cost.
  • Power consumption at full load should not exceed 700 W
  • Water consumption, if needed, for operation should not exceed 14 litres per day
  • Zero onsite emissions from any fossil fuel based captive power source
  • Zero ozone depleting potential (ODP) and lower toxicity (class A) refrigerant complying with IEC 60335-2-40 (2018) or ISO 5149.
  • Usable in existing homes, rather than requiring a "designed in" engineering solution

The prize is supported by Government of India through the Department of Science and Technology and Mission Innovation and will be administered by a coalition of leading research institutes—Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Conservation X Labs, the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), and CEPT University.

“The Global Cooling Prize will shine a spotlight on the need for innovation and help create an environment where innovation can succeed, making it a perfect time for those with new technologies to challenge the status quo. A technology developed through the Global Cooling Prize has the potential to capture a $1Million award but more importantly, has the opportunity to seize a US$20 billion market and transform the global AC market for the better,” said Iain Campbell, Senior Fellow, Rocky Mountain Institute.

Inaugurating the Global Cooling Innovation Summit and delivering his keynote address, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India said, “The health and productivity of billions of citizens living in tropical and subtropical climates will be affected by rising temperatures. 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”.

For further details on the Global Cooling Prize, please visit https://globalcoolingprize.org/

Media contacts:

India - Ms. Vindhya Tripathi, Director of Communications / The Global Cooling Prize, Rocky Mountain Institute. Email: vtripathi [at] rmi.org (vtripathi[at]rmi[dot]org) Mobile: +91 98105 37978

USA & Europe - Nick Steel, Senior Associate, Media, Rocky Mountain Institute. Email: vtripathi [at] rmi.org (nsteel[at]rmi[dot]org )Mobile: +1 347 574 0887