UC Davis energy experts at the Western Cooling Efficiency Center (WCEC) announced the launch of the Western Cooling Challenge for design at the Retailer Energy Alliance Supplier Summit in Denver on June 5.
Using statistics based on 2007 energy consumption as a baseline, the competition aims to reduce both total energy use and peak electricity demand in drier climates by allowing challengers to design, build and market high-efficiency rooftop cooling units for western states.
“The goal of the challenge is to convince manufacturers to build rooftop package units, and to get those units to be more energy efficient,” said Mark Modera, director of the WCEC.
The desired reductions in energy use are comprised of two related aspects. First, the challenge aims to reduce overall energy use by approximately 40 percent relative to current energy levels in new buildings, and reduce the energy consumption in existing buildings by at least one quarter.
Second, peak electricity demand, which refers to energy use during mid-afternoons on hot summer days, is also to be reduced by 40 percent, Modera said.
The new cooling units are meant to replace current units, which are designed as national products that are not regionally differentiated.
“Current cooling units are made for a broad U.S. market,” said Marshall Hunt, the programs director of the WCEC. “They are designed to pull moisture out of the air, which is important in humid areas of the United States. However, it is a misapplication of energy in western states.“
By designing a customized cooling product for drier climates, such as those found in California, there is sufficient opportunity to increase energy efficiency, Hunt said.
Achieving this goal will also help western states meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“The people who benefit are utilities companies, customers – because they don’t have to spend as much money – and the world in general,” Modera said.
The challenge sets up a list of rigorous requirements and performance metrics for contenders, including a weight limit for the cooling units, required inspections by WCEC representatives and a series of mandatory tests, according to the WCEC website.
The challenge was created to help the WCEC fulfill its mission of supporting cooling strategies that work to reduce the cost and impact of cooling systems in California, according to the website. It specifically targets the introduction of new technologies to the market by combining educational and technical support to interested parties.
The center is working in tandem with a long list of high-profile partners, including Wal-Mart, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Target Corporation, the U.S. Department of Energy and many others.
The deadline for interested parties to submit any question or comments to the WCEC is July 5, which will be answered by the center via webcast July 18.
“The deadline isn’t for a while, but we’ve already spoken with a number of affiliates,” Modera said. “But the actual application is a two-step process.“
Contenders are required to submit a letter of intent in order to participate in the Western Cooling Challenge by Aug. 15. The new technologies are estimated to be ready for market distribution by Spring 2010.
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