A cool million-dollar prize on offer for AC innovators

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

An international coalition made up of the Rocky Mountain Institute, AIRAH and ASHRAE is launching the Global Cooling Prize, a worldwide competition to spur the development of radically more energy-efficient cooling technology. The ultimate winner will earn US$1 million to support commercialisation and scaling of the technology.

The goal is to incentivise development of a residential cooling solution that will have at least five times less climate impact than today’s standard RAC units. This technology could prevent up to 100 gigatonnes of CO2e emissions by 2050, and help mitigate up to 0.5°C of global warming by 2100, while enhancing living standards for people in developing countries around the globe.

“We already know that use of room air conditioning is set to rise dramatically by 2050,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH, “especially in developing countries such as India, China, Brazil and Indonesia.”

The Rocky Mountain Institute estimates that 3.3 billion room AC units will be installed in the world between now and 2050.

“That’s great for manufacturers,” says Gleeson. “But it’s not so great for overall energy use and emissions. So it’s vitally important that we support the development of lower-impact and more sustainable cooling solutions. The Global Cooling Prize is one way of doing that, and AIRAH is very proud to be part of the initiative.”

The competition is officially being launched on November 12–13 at the Global Cooling Innovation Summit in New Delhi, India and will be open for two years.

At least US$2 million in intermediate prize money will be awarded to support prototype development by shortlisted teams. These prototypes will be tested for performance in both laboratory and real-world conditions in a heat-stressed city in India. The ultimate winner will be awarded at least US$1 million to support commercialisation and scaling of the technology.

The winning solution will need to operate within predefined constraints on materials, water consumption, full-load power consumption, and maintenance requirements. It will also need to be affordable to typical consumers, costing no more than twice the retail price of today’s standard units at assessed industrial scale (resulting in a payback period of three to four years).

The prize will be administered by the Rocky Mountain Institute, Conservation X Labs, the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy, and CEPT University, with high-level leadership, guidance, and support from the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology and other major funders. The prize is part of Mission Innovation’s Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings Innovation Challenge.

For more info go to globalcoolingprize.org.