A competition to find a breakthrough in air-conditioning technology has been launched with the backing of Sir Richard Branson and the Indian government, in an effort to avert the climate impact of the huge expected growth in the use of cooling systems. The prize is intended to encourage inventors to find new ideas for indoor cooling that can be economically competitive against current technologies, while reducing energy consumption and the use of refrigerants such as hydrofluorocarbons that contribute to global warming. There are about 1.2bn air-conditioning units installed worldwide today, and that number is forecast to rise to 4.5bn by 2050 as incomes rise and living standards improve in hot countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. If today’s technology is used for those units, they would by themselves emit enough greenhouse gases to raise global temperatures by 0.5C, according to Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy think-tank. The International Energy Agency has also sounded the alarm over air-conditioning, describing it as one of the most critical blind spots in international energy policy.
FT 12th Oct 2018 read more »