Conclusions - Clean Cooling Congress 2018

Clean Cooling Congress, 18 – 19 April 2018

Delivering clean, zero-CO2 and sustainable cooling is now recognised globally as key to our energy and environmental challenges; the challenge is how and within what timeline? A first ever International Clean Cooling Congress was hosted by the University of Birmingham to bring together government, academic, industry, NGOs and professional bodies from around the world, etc to discuss new ideas and novel methods to address the cooling challenges and how to deliver.

The workshop was an opportunity to create dialogue and new collaborations to share knowledge; build capacity and better understand how to underpin and galvanise novel “clean cooling” technology demonstration and advancement opportunities around the local and global challenge of sustainable cooling.  

At the close, it was agreed that the Congress was a valuable event and a second event should be held next year, possibly in India or UAE (the aim being that this is a globally owned Congress).

Media coverage

Warming climate to nearly double demand for cooling appliances – The Guardian
More demand for cool air than heating by 2050 – The Times
‘Clean cold’ congress closes with demand for systemic cooling rethink – RAC News

Key messages

  • Cooling is at the heart of safety, resilience and economic advancement of society. It materially impacts our lives on land and at sea. It is essential to address major challenges around access to food and medicine, addressing subsistence farming and rural poverty, delivering sustainable, resilient and safe cities, managing energy and natural resources including water, and protecting our environment (CO2 and climate change to air pollution in our cities).
  • Cooling is specifically a strong contributor to prosperity building but to cope with cooling-demand growth in a sustainable way, systems need to be designed to maximise final energy efficiency.
  • Cooling is universal but means very different things to different groups of people – subsistence farmers, agri-businesses, informal urban (slum) dwellers, factory workers, affluent middle classes all have need for cooling but in very different ways, from extending the life of crops on the farm, temperature controlled access to market  or getting access to basic vaccines, to bearable or even safe work environments or comfort and convenience food in an urban high rise apartment – and much in-between.
  • Access to clean cooling for all is an urgent, significant, but currently not prioritised, global challenge if we are to meet our commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Climate Agreement and Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
  • With the growth in demand and the environmental and energy impacts of traditional cooling technologies, clean cooling is also a major, global commercial market opportunity.
  • Understanding cooling as a service will unlock economic and sustainable distributed services in urban as well as remote areas rather than defaulting to extending grid electricity.
  • Understanding cooling will unlock currently wasted energy assets as well as enable better integrated solutions.
  • Need for both incremental (here now) and step-change (longer term horizons) - Ladder of opportunities and
    • Here and now is not just efficient solutions but also maintenance (if the condenser is blocked with dirt build up and air flow reduced by 35%, this alone can result in a 15-20% rise in energy consumption)
    • Long-term will include system level

Nb. Short term measures need to be aligned with long term ambitions
Long term ambitions can constrain short term deliverables

  • Policy: what can the consumer be incentivised to implement, what needs to be regulated or automated, not just technology.
  • Solutions need to be “fit for market” not one size fits all – climate, policy, social, economics, rural or urban, etc
  • Key to delivery includes
    • reducing demand for cooling by design.
    • system-level and thermal approaches to better harness /monetise renewable and waste thermal energy and unlock new approaches
    • the design and demonstration, manufacture, deployment, maintenance and operation of energy efficient and affordable cooling technologies.
    • access to finance and novel business models (cold as a service)
    • attracting people into the industry and associated skills development (design, installation, maintenance, fundamental research)
    • multi-disciplinary approach– social scientists, policy, financiers to engineers working together to deliver access to cooling for all sustainably.
  • Defined messaging and positioning were seen as important topics
    • Absence of a defined place or frame of reference for cooling / clean cooling within the clean technology and impact space; Government agencies and financiers not looking at this as a Sector.
    • When people talk about energy, they often mean electricity, and when they talk about energy storage, they mean batteries. This blurring of concepts matters because it fails to recognise some basic energy facts-of-life that one of the fastest growing sources of energy demand over the next twenty years, if not this century, will be for cooling; cooling would often be better served thermally rather than by than electricity and batteries.
    • Demonstrate interventions delivering value and impact to end user/ consumer (Key to unlocking finance)
  • There is not a comprehensive (all sectors – buildings, food, health, transport data, industry and commercial) understanding of the size of the cooling demand either today or in the future, nor of the implications this has on energy systems /new build generation requirements and environment (climate change and pollution). There is therefore also currently no cohesive and integrated strategy to either mitigate or meet cooling needs in the most economically and environmentally sustainable and resilient way, including harnessing waste energy sources, managing natural capital and greenhouse gases while sustaining economy growth.


  • Living Labs. Fill the critical gap in understanding, designing and deploying multi-sector, multi-technology, multi-energy source integrated approaches to cooling to deliver – and balance - maximum economic, environmental and societal impact. 
  • Centre of Excellence. Led by the UK research community and a collaboration between University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University, a coalition of partners from the technology innovators, academic, public, financiers, for-profit and not-for-profit sectors to work together to accelerate system level solution to market.
  • System level design.  Bring together technology and systems innovation into a cross-sector, needs-driven systems approach for specific markets. This also needs to identify the barriers to intervention and how to create robust commercial models for industry to engage and the opportunity to build skills in-country to deliver (and maintain).