Global Cooling Prize given to support innovative climate friendly technologies

The Government of India along with a global coalition led by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) announced 8 finalists of the Global Cooling Prize, an international innovation competition to develop super-efficient and climate-friendly residential cooling solutions.

The Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who awarded the finalists, mentioned that this Global Cooling Prize competition, which focuses on India specific requirements, acquired a global reach and has demonstrated capability to achieve dramatic breakthroughs in cooling technologies. He pointed out that the prize can incentivise innovation to address India’s cooling demand.

The eight selected teams showcased a wide range of technology ideas, from smart, hybrid designs of vapour compression technology; to smart, hybrid designs of evaporative cooling; to solid-state cooling technologies; with application of low or no global warming potential refrigerants.

They will be awarded US$100,000 each to develop and transport their two units of their prototypes of 1.5 tonne -- one for lab testing and one for home, to test the practicality of their prototypes. They will be awarded another US$100,000  after submission of their prototypes which will be tested in India in the summer of 2020 and the final awardee  will be presented with US$ 1 million.

The teams include some of the world’s largest AC manufacturers, like Godrej, Daikin, Gree, Startups and Corporations like Transaera Inc, M2 Thermal Solutions, Kraton Corporation, and research institutions like the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan added that the outcome would be to develop a cooling technology that requires less energy to operate, utilizes refrigerants with low or no ozone depletion potential and with low global warming potential, and has the potential to be cost-effective at scale.

Highlighting that innovation is the foundation for development and growth, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that this initiative aligns with the objectives of the India Cooling Action Plan that the Government of India officially released this year. The action plan can 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.

He emphasized the linkage of cooling with sustainable development goals, cross sectoral nature of cooling and its use in development of economy. This he added makes provision for cooling an important development activity. 

The Minister also highlighted the importance accorded by India to global collaborations through international platforms such as Mission Innovation to accelerate development of affordable innovations. The initiative is also supported by nodal Government of India Ministries and agencies including the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; Ministry of Power; Bureau of Energy Efficiency and Niti Aayog.

He congratulated all the finalists and hoped that all the finalists would deliver the prototypes which are climate friendly solutions within the broad parameters of energy efficiency and costs.

Sir Dominic Asquith, High Commissioner of UK to India said that Global Cooling Prize is a prime example of international collaboration which will allow use of best practices with the help of innovative ideas.

He added that a global coalition led by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India; Rocky Mountain Institute and the Mission Innovation 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.

Innovation and new technologies in the cooling industry are especially crucial for India. Studies suggest that the cost to the Indian economy due to lost productivity from extreme heat could exceed $450 billion by 2030. While the household ownership of ACs in India today is a mere 7%. The demand for comfort cooling is expected to drive the total stock of room ACs in India to over 1 billion by 2050 — a 40-fold growth from 2016. Growth in the demand for cooling will be dramatic, particularly in urban areas, due to the underlying need for a solution to the problem of heat stress. 

Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary DST emphasized the role of innovation and contribution of novel mechanisms such as prizes and challenges to attract global attention and leapfrog current practices. 

He said that the challenge is to cut down carbon footprint of cooling by 80% which is not possible with existing technologies so we need to do something out of the box. Global Cooling Prize is one of such example to address cooling problem.

He stated that research, development and innovation framework within the country has evolved significantly to provide a conducive eco-system for clean energy and energy efficient innovations.

Shri Abhay Bakre, Director General, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, complimented the organisers for instituting global cooling prize.  He also shared the roadmap developed by India towards low carbon energy efficient economy with special reference to cooling requirements. 

Ms. Geeta Menon, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), emphasized that energy efficiency with refrigerant transition will enhance over climate benefits.  She added that Global Cooling Prize coalition will lead to indigenous development of alternate cooling technology and its mass adoption in India.

Mr. John Roome, Head South Asia, World Bank mentioned that sustainable cold chain can help doubling farmer income as well as maximising energy efficiency of ACs and reducing emission can help to reduce global temperature by 1°C.

Speaking at the event, Iain Campbell, Senior Fellow at Rocky Mountain Institute stated, “The AC industry represents a 100 billion dollar market today and is set to grow to nearly four times that size by 2050. The Prize initiates an era of transformation and global innovation for the cooling industry. A breakthrough technology has the potential to prevent up to 132 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 its launch, the Prize has received overwhelming international participation — over 2,100 participant registrations were received from innovators, start-ups, research institutes, universities, and key AC industry manufacturers in over 95 countries. Of these registered entities, 445 teams submitted their preliminary ideas through the intent to apply form and 139 teams from 31 countries around the globe followed through with their submission of the full Detailed Technical Application to the Prize.