Strategy that would see more energy efficient cold stores rented out on a per use basis for lower income producers in India highlighted as examples of new ‘clean cold’ business models
A proposed ‘cold as a service’ approach to providing less carbon intensive cooling functions on a per use basis has been put forward as an example of radical business models that experts argue are needed in a drive for more sustainable refrigeration and food supply.
The model was one of the points of discussion at the first ‘clean cold’ global congress held at Birmingham University earlier this year.
Planning future demonstrator projects focused on new approaches around the design, funding and implementation of cooling solutions, including non-mechanical alternatives to standard refrigeration, were also discussed at the congress.
Clean cold is a concept built around the idea of combining news forms of policy and business models with technologies that may already be on the market, yet face barriers to widescale implementation.
Organisers of the Clean Cold Congress, which was held in April, believe that there is now international consensus to move forward with work on realising more ‘revolutionary’ models of finance and business that can support a more economically and environmentally sustainable cold chain.
However, some industry bodies have warned of the need for short-term, immediate planning around cooling within global supply chains to not be overlooked as a result of clean cold business models.
Professor Toby Peters from the University of Birmingham has been leading the institution’s work on clean cold through. This work includes establishing collaboration projects with stakeholders and decision makers from several regions in India to develop new ways of safeguarding agricultural supply, while improving energy efficiency and earnings for producers.
Professor Peters said he hoped projects such as these will create new approaches to how foods, medicine and people are kept cool, not just purely from a technological perspective.
He added, “If we are to sustainably deliver cooling for all, we must stop thinking that green electricity and technology efficiency can meet demand alone. Unless we think thermally, not just electrically, we are sitting on a carbon time bomb.”
Professor Peters therefore highlighted ‘cold as a service’, building on concepts similar to those that have transformed how computer services are commissioned around the world, as one example of models contemplated during the congress.
This concept could see cold stores with improved energy efficiency performance being rented out on a per-use basis in rural communities in India or other environments where investment costs in new technologies prove prohibitive.
Under this model, initial capital used to fund these projects could be handled by impact investors and other kinds of private or social funding mechanisms, Professor Peters argued.
The full feature on the outcomes and next steps for ‘clean cold’, and wider industry reaction, can be read on page 12 and 13 of June’s RAC Magazine. A digital edition of the magazine can be read here.