Virgin Group co-founder Richard Branson has put $ 3 million into the new competition, which will stimulate the production of more environmentally friendly air conditioners.
"The increase in energy consumption for cooling poses a high risk of meeting our climate targets," Branson said when he launched the Global Cooling Prize.
He also said he hoped that the price would "literally help save the world from the catastrophe it faces."
The price comes at the back of the publication of a new report that suggested that the expansion of air conditioning alone could cause an increase in global temperatures by half past 2100.
– Richard Branson (@richardbranson) November 12, 2018
The Global Cooling Prize will stimulate innovation
The competition was announced jointly with the Government of India, globally pure energy initiative Mission Innovation and non-profit organization Rocky Mountain Institute.
The price website states that today's most advanced air conditioning technology has only reached 14% of the maximum theoretical efficiency and most units work less than 8%.
The price aims to change it. It will require participating companies to produce air-conditioning solutions that work with five times less climate impact than existing units, and which can work up to twice the cost.
Next year, the award will award $ 200,000 to 10 companies, which will facilitate the construction of prototypes. These prototypes are then tested in laboratories and apartments in India. The winner then earns at least $ 1 million.
Iain Campbell, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, also said that the market did not reward energy-efficient air conditioners and was instead driven by price-based competition.
Branson was optimistic that the market failure seen in the air conditioning industry could be determined and said that the price could counteract the high cost of research and development in the field, which constitutes an obstacle to access.
"If we can disturb the aviation industry, where a single Boeing 737 can cost north of $ 70 million, I'm pretty sure we can do it with air conditioning," he said.
Every summer it becomes hotter and it is important that everyone has access to cooling. Do you have an innovation that can help us keep you cool without warming the earth? Apply for the global cooling price! https://t.co/oqzyopZVyQ pic.twitter.com/wxM2mOYZr4
– Erik Solheim (@ErikSolheim) November 12, 2018
The big picture: The number of air conditioners worldwide is expected to float
Air conditioning usage is expected to rise to alleviate higher temperatures. A study from 2017 estimates that up to 74% of all humans can be exposed to fatal temperatures for at least 20 days in 2100.
India has seen particularly strong growth in the number of installed air conditioning units and is expected to have 1 billion air conditioning plants before 2050.
The number of air conditioning systems installed worldwide is expected to rise from about 1.2 billion at present to 4.5 billion in the middle of the century.
Header image credit: Kris Krüg