Brazil and China Meet to Discuss the Future of Cooling MEPS
On 17 March, CLASP convened government representatives and experts from China and Brazil for a discussion on energy efficiency policies for multi-connected air conditioner systems. This collaborative gathering included participants from the Chinese National Institute for Standardization (CNIS), the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, and the National Electricity Conservation Program (Procel), as well as energy efficiency consultants from Mitsidi in Brazil. China currently leads the world in technical requirements multi-connected AC systems, which are primarily used in commercial buildings.
Commercial AC market in Brazil
Brazil’s commercial air conditioning market is populated equally by three system types: variable refrigerant flow (VRF), packaged and chilled water. VRFs are significantly more energy efficient than the other two system types, primarily due to their use of inverter technology. Building commercial AC standards to increase the uptake of VRFs and continually improve VRF efficiency is critical to achieving energy savings in Brazil’s commercial cooling market.
VRF commercial air conditioning units have grown on average 15% per year since 2011 and haven't reached their peak yet.
But in Brazil, increasing the inverter market share is no easy task. There are currently no minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for central AC equipment, so any regulation would have to be built from the ground up. The lack of regulation also means that the market is flooded with older, less efficient models, and owners of less efficient buildings have no incentive to replace existing systems.
China strengthens multi-connected AC policy
During the meeting, CNIS shared how they formulated their own multi-connected AC policy. Ten years after its initial adoption, China began a revision process, with the main goal of combatting climate change with stricter standards. Their current plan aims to eliminate low-efficiency products, strengthen existing MEPS and efficiency labeling grades, and lead the world in high efficiency regulations. The revision, which will go into effect in November 2022, has the potential to prevent 206 Mt in CO₂ emissions (206,000,000 tonnes) by 2030 and will move the Chinese market to 100% inverter units.
The new standards referenced international benchmarks, with the final proposal including a Grade 1 label (the most efficient tier) that supersedes all previously set requirements. The lowest threshold of China’s multi-connected AC MEPS is on par with existing standards in the EU and US. For Brazil, this benchmarking approach could help position their first-ever multi-connected AC MEPS and ensure ambitious yet realistic goals.
At present, Mitsidi is in the exploratory phase of their market assessment, collecting data through interviews with various stakeholders and secondary research. As Brazil looks to create their own commercial AC regulations, this interchange provided an excellent starting point for a successful course of action. CLASP is looking forward to supporting this effort and aid the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy in their goal of drafting a policy that would be adopted by the end of 2023.
China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS)
The China National Institute of Standardization is a national social service institution dedicated to standardization researches. It mainly addresses the global, strategic and comprehensive standardization issues in national economy and social development of China. As a public interest institution at national level, CNIS is committed to actively participate in international standardization activities by taking the leadership of the international organizations.
National Electricity Conservation Program (Procel)
National Electric Energy Conservation Program (Procel in Portuguese) is a government program that promotes the efficient use of electricity. Procel promotes energy efficiency actions in various segments of the economy, which help the country to save electricity and generate benefits for the whole society.
National Institute of Metrology Standardization and Industrial Quality (INMETRO)
The National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO) is a Brazilian regulatory agency that evaluates compliance requirements for products manufactured in or exported to Brazil. The INMETRO certification scheme serves to establish a minimum standard of quality and safety for a comprehensive list of components, which is constantly evolving as new regulations are released and current ones are updated.