Keeping cool with radically less global warming

View of trees from looking upwards
Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
15 November 2019

Population growth, urbanisation, rising income levels and a warming planet are all driving unprecedented growth in the global demand for comfort cooling.

The risks accompanying this ever increasing demand prompted the creation of the Global Cooling Prize (GCP) – an innovation competition focused on unearthing and developing climate-friendly residential cooling solutions.

Outreach Partners of the Global Cooling Prize congratulate the eight teams selected as Finalists of the Prize, who will move onto the next stage of prototype development and testing.

Today, eight of the world’s leading air conditioning (AC) manufacturers and technology companies were announced as finalists for the GCP – each receiving $200,000 for inventing affordable cooling solutions with the potential for five times less climate impact. Each finalist will now further develop and ship their prototypes to India for testing in the summer of 2020. The winner of the prize will be announced in November 2020 and awarded more than $1 million in prize money.

Read Richard's blog: A cool idea whose time has come

A global coalition, led by the Government of India along with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), announced the finalists at an event in Delhi, showcasing their breakthrough cooling technologies that not only use less electricity, but also reduce or eliminate the use of refrigerants linked to climate change.

The 8 finalists of the Global Cooling Prize.
Image from Global Cooling Prize

The finalists include some of the world’s largest air conditioner manufacturers, including Gree, Daikin and Godrej; start-ups and corporations, including Design Startup Co., Transaera Inc., M2 Thermal Solutions and Kraton Corporation; and Barocal. 

Richard Branson is a global ambassador for the GCP. He said: “It gives me immense satisfaction to say that we have received some absolutely revolutionary cooling ideas. 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 affect 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.”

Innovation and new technologies like these are crucial for the cooling industry, especially in India, with recent reports predicting that for the next three decades, 10 room air conditioners will be sold in markets around the globe every second. 

Their breakthrough innovations, when scaled, could help to mitigate up to 0.5 degrees Celsius in global warming by the end of the century.

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.

Listen to the Earth Unscrewed episode: Cooling solutions to a warming planet featuring Radhika Lalit, manager of the Global Cooling Prize, as she talks about the incredibly troubling position the planet is in due to inefficient room air conditioners. 

Since the Global Cooling Prize launched earlier this year 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. Follow the Global Cooling Prize online to stay up to date on the finalists and their journeys toward the final in 2020.