Climate-Friendly ACs: 5X less climate impact to market by 2025

A global coalition initiated by the Government of India, Mission Innovation, and RMI announced today the winners of the Global Cooling Prize, an international innovation competition to develop super-efficient and climate-friendly residential cooling solutions. Gree Electric Appliances, Inc. of Zhuhai with partner Tsinghua University; and Daikin with partner Nikken Sekkei Ltd. emerged as the two winners among eight Finalists after shattering the perceived ceiling of performance. These companies have produced prototypes that have five times (5X) less climate impact than standard air conditioning units available in the market today. When scaled, such technologies can prevent 132 GT of CO2 -equivalent emissions cumulatively between now and 2050 and mitigate over 0.5°C of global warming by the end of the century.

The other Finalist teams were led by some of the world’s largest air conditioner (AC) manufacturers and promising startups from India, China, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The teams (in alphabetical order) include Barocal Ltd.; Godrej and Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. with partner A.T.E; Kraton with partners Infosys, IIT Bombay, and Porus Labs; M2 Thermal Solutions; S&S Design Startup Solutions Pvt. Ltd.; and Transaera with partner Haier. In November of 2019, the eight Finalists were awarded US$200,000 each to develop their prototypes, and showcased a wide range of promising technologies, including smart hybrid designs of vapor-compression designs, evaporative cooling designs, and solid-state cooling technologies that use little or no global warming refrigerants. In August of 2020, amidst the global pandemic, five of the eight Finalist teams successfully developed and delivered two working prototypes of their technology to the designated test locations in India. To demonstrate the performance and scalability of the Finalists’ solutions, one prototype from each team was installed and tested under a real-world setting at the Tata New Haven Bahadurgarh site near New Delhi. The second prototype was tested in a sequential manner under controlled conditions at CEPT University in Ahmedabad, India. Finally, the prototypes were sent to Danfoss’ National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)-accredited lab in Chennai, India for an Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ISEER) test. [Details in the annexure].

RMI Chief Executive Officer Jules Kortenhorst highlighted how collaboration across governments, industry, and civil society organizations, resulted in the success of the initiative. “What the Global Cooling Prize demonstrates is that collective effort can help combat our most critical and urgent problems,” explained Kortenhorst. “In this decisive decade, let this herald a new era of collaboration to spur innovations and the discovery of viable solutions in the other sectors that are yet to move towards low-carbon, efficient, and clean technologies. Now governments must support industry to bring these climate friendly technologies to market.” The Prize Finalists, which collectively produce well over 20% of the world’s residential room ACs, are determined to bring them to market within the next few years. Gree Electric Appliances, Inc. of Zhuhai, a winner of the Prize, and Qingdao Haier Air Conditioner Gen Corp. Ltd., a partner of Finalist Transaera Inc., have announced their intention to join in the COP26 “Race to Zero Breakthrough” for the cooling sector.

Ms. Dong Mingzhu, chairperson and president of Gree Electric Appliances, Inc. of Zhuhai, stated: “We are pleased that we were selected as a winner of the Prize and we are committed to delivering the Race to Zero Breakthrough for Cooling: to bring to market affordable residential AC units using this new cooling technology (which has 5X lower climate impact than today’s units) by 2025.” Mr. KJ Jawa, MD & CEO Daikin India, Member of the Board & Regional General Manager, AC business, India and East Africa Daikin Industries Ltd., said, “Daikin’s selection as a winner of the Global Cooling Prize is consistent with our “Environmental Vision 2050,” which provides a roadmap for the company to carbon neutrality by 2050. In line with that vision, Daikin is committed to the research and commercial development of technologies that reduce energy consumption and refrigerant impact for the benefit of global communities and the environment.” The winners will share the prize purse of US$1 million equally.

About RMI
RMI is an independent nonprofit founded in 1982 that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. “Cooling accounts for approximately 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, so we won’t get to net zero emissions without climate friendly cooling, especially residential air conditioning. The success of the Prize will make a critical contribution on the pathway to net zero cooling. I congratulate the winning teams and welcome the commitment that Team Gree has made to help deliver the race to zero cooling breakthrough to bring 5X more climate friendly & affordable air conditioning units to the market by 2025.”