Thinking Outside The Box
“Growing electricity demand for air conditioning is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate,” stated Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. “With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world.” Let’s crunch the numbers: worldwide, 1.2 billion room air conditioning units are installed currently but by 2050 that figure will soar to 4.5 billion, according to the Global Cooling Challenge report from RMI. Chilling, indeed! (image via Ernie)
The Bigger Chill
“Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants,” added Dr Birol, “and allow them at the same time to cut emissions and reduce costs.” After the easy steps are made, however, harder steps remain… and those challenges delve into the cold, clammy heart of Willis Carrier’s boxy brainchild. (image via ptwo)
Lend Me Your Airs
The Global Cooling Prize is encouraging inventors and entrepreneurs to think outside the AC box, as it were. The immediate incentive is a $1 million dollar prize money to the overall winner to be announced in November 2020 by a panel of judges. The competitors are guided by a specific set of guidelines with the resulting cooling solution having five times less climate impact compared to AC systems currently in use. (image via Matthijs Koster)
All Is Not Frost
At press time, the prize’s judges have whittled down the competitors to a shortlist of eight finalists. The next step for the finalists is to transform their concepts into functional prototypes that will undergo testing, both in a dedicated lab setting and in real-world conditions at a New Delhi high-rise apartment.
“We’re going to do a 60-day test at the peak of the Delhi summer,” explained Iain Campbell, managing director at RMI. “India will be the largest market for cooling over the next 30 years, going from under 14 million air conditioning units today to (nearly) a billion by 2050. They would need to double the size of their power system to achieve that.” Faced with that mountain, governments may choose to instead climb the molehill of upgraded, innovative, energy-saving AC technology. (image via See-ming Lee)
Did you know there are other ways to “condition” the air? Check out Air, Cleaner: Pilot Plant Economically Captures CO2!