Air Conditioner Policy Event Showcases Best Practices from Brazil, China and India
Global demand for air conditioning is rising, and as governments embrace the many benefits of cooling for health, productivity and comfort, they also face challenges in managing higher electricity demand and the climate impacts of AC energy and refrigerant use.
In Brazil, China and India, policymakers tackling those issues must also consider the needs of their domestic AC manufacturing sectors. Policymakers from all three countries as well as the UN’s United for Efficiency program spoke at a recent CLASP webinar to share insights from their experiences implementing AC efficiency policy. A common feature in all three countries has been to establish a predictable timeline for policy evolution, while specifics of their approaches have varied.
India: Consumer labeling plays a “star” role
TP Ashwin, a project engineer with India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency, gave an overview of government policies targeting the cooling crisis, including development of the India Cooling Action Plan and a consumer-facing appliance labeling program. Under the Star Labeling Program, BEE has updated efficiency requirements by 1 star level every two years for the past decade, Ashwin said, such that models that originally would have earned the top 5-star rating now mark the minimum permitted efficiency. One effect of the program has been to shift the market away from fixed-speed AC models, which cannot meet the standards for the top tiers, and toward more-efficient inverter AC models.
India has also adopted a seasonal energy efficiency ratio to measure AC performance that reflects the hot and humid climate better than global metrics. The national labeling system does not currently address refrigerants, but policymakers are considering doing so in order to incentivize manufacturing and purchase of ACs that use chemicals that are more climate-friendly.
Brazil: Catch-up policies, with transition time
Carlos Alexandre Principe Pires, Director of Energy Development with Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, said the country’s AC efficiency policies had gone unchanged for more than a decade before a revision was launched in 2018. In July, the country published ambitious new AC minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) that are projected to obtain 30% of the country’s nationally determined contribution for the energy sector under the Paris Agreement. Because of Brazil’s relatively clean, hydropower-dominated electricity mix, the policy revisions were driven more by the opportunity for consumer cost savings than by CO₂ emissions reductions.
Danielle Assafin Vieira, Coordinator of the Brazilian Labeling Program with Brazil’s National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality, said the groundbreaking policy revisions will be phased in through two steps that give manufacturers time to adjust: the standards rely on voluntary compliance until January 2022, and will increase in stringency again in 2026.
China: Manufacturer involvement from the start
Liu Meng, an Associate Professor in the Resources and Environment Branch of China’s National Institute of Standardization, described new Chinese AC MEPS that are on par with those in the US, EU and Japan. The standards will effectively phase out fixed-speed ACs, which is expected to drive up prices initially but quickly correct as production volumes for high-efficiency products increase, and additional technology advances occur. Liu said that including input from AC manufacturers from the start of the policy drafting process was important to getting the best possible outcome.
Brian Holuj, a Programme Officer with the UN Environment Program’s United for Efficiency partnership, described model regulations developed by the organization that largely mirror the Chinese standards. U4E’s model regulations lay out suggested efficiency policy levels including minimum standards and more ambitious efficiency tiers, and would shut the least efficient AC models out of the market. The model regulations offer a strong signal to AC manufacturers about market direction, and have been used as a basis for policy development in countries including Rwanda, the Dominican Republic, Pakistan and Chile.
A recording of the webinar is available online, and the presenter slides can be viewed here. Learn more about the development and application of United for Efficiency’s model MEPS through this July, 2020 CLASP webinar and at United for Efficiency’s website. Read more about ecolabeling for ACs in India, Brazil’s new AC efficiency policy, and China’s Leading Energy Efficiency Program.