Daikin and Gree teams win Global Cooling Prize

Team Daikin with partner Nikken Sekkei Ltd and team Gree Electric Appliances, Inc. of Zhuhai with partner Tsinghua University have been announced dual winners of the Global Cooling Prize. The manufacturing giants showcased breakthrough technologies with five times less climate impact than conventional AC units and are planning to bring them to market by 2025.

According to the prize organisers, the teams emerged as the winners from the eight finalists after “shattering the perceived ceiling” of performance with their prototypes. When scaled, it is estimated that such technologies could prevent 132GT of CO2e emissions cumulatively between now and 2050 and mitigate over 0.5°C of global warming by the end of the century.

Applauding the significance of the achievement, NexGen America founder Tom Steyer said: “When the Prize launched in 2018, many people, including cooling experts, believed that the 5X climate cooling criteria, as well as the prize’s supplementary criteria, were far too ambitious. But here we are, both team Daikin and partner Nikken Sekkei Ltd., and team Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai and partner Tsinghua University, have not only proven that a 5X technology is possible, but shown that the technology is here today.

“These technology breakthroughs, coupled with the ambitious commitments made in the Race to Zero, exemplify the incredible progress that can be made when innovators are mobilised, the right incentives for change are identified, and cross-sectoral stakeholders work together.”

Both winning teams achieved more than five times reduction in climate impact against the baseline unit, meeting the primary criteria of the prize.

The prize administrators also concluded that although both teams’ technologies would likely have an initial up-front cost on introduction to the market at two to three times more than the baseline units, life-cycle cost of ownership would be around half that of the baseline unit. Consumers would experience a simple payback on the higher first cost after just over three years of operation.

The administrators also noted that the technologies’ ability to better control the indoor environment would provide increased comfort.

Congratulating the winners of the competition, Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group said: “A market transformation opportunity for the cooling sector is now a reality, which can help combat the warming of our planet. As this incredible achievement begins to be recognised and applauded, it’s time for regulators to focus on the policies and standards that will help us bring these technologies to the markets.”

The prize finalists, which collectively produce well over 20 per cent of the world’s residential room ACs, say they are determined to bring them to market within the next few years. Gree and Qingdao Haier Air Conditioner, a partner of finalist Transaera, have announced their intention to join in the COP26 “Race to Zero Breakthrough” for the cooling sector.

Gree Electric Appliances Chair and President Dong Mingzhu says: “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.”

KJ Jawa, Managing Director and CEO of Daikin India, and member of the Board and Regional General Manager, AC business, India and East Africa Daikin Industries, says: “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 (reach) 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.

To view the complete prize ceremony, click here.

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