India Announces Major Energy Efficiency Policy for Cooling Systems

New policy for commercial and industrial AC systems will substantially reduce energy consumption and CO₂ emissions.

On September 14, India’s Ministry of Power announced a major energy efficiency policy for large commercial and industrial AC systems commonly referred to as chillers. Manufacturers, test laboratories, the national accreditation body, and other experts attended the announcement event, which came as India joined the world in celebrating the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. India is one of few emerging economies to develop an energy efficiency policy for chillers, an air conditioning product that provides critical large-scale cooling services to institutions like hospitals, data centers, offices, and industrial manufacturing plants. CLASP, with funding from ClimateWorks Foundation, the Tilia Fund, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, provided multiyear support to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) to develop the new policy.

Chillers consume significant amounts of energy and can account for more than 40% of total energy consumption in a typical commercial building, as well as in certain industrial processes. Currently, 80% of chillers in India are used for cooling in commercial buildings, while the remaining 20% are used in industrial process applications. As the building stock in India continues to increase, energy consumption from chillers is expected to grow rapidly. Energy efficiency policy for chillers is crucial to moderate future electricity demand and thereby curtail potential greenhouse gas emissions.

Designing the new energy efficiency policy for chillers in India required an unconventional approach. The energy consumed in chiller systems is sensitive to load changes, seasonal variations, operation and maintenance, and ambient conditions. CLASP supported the Bureau of Indian Standards in developing a national standard for chillers that factors Indian weather and temperature conditions into energy performance ratings. Further, because every chiller is a customized product, CLASP and BEE collaborated with international experts in standardization, manufacturers, and test labs to develop a viable implementation process.

CLASP projects that in 2019 alone the ambitious new voluntary policy for chillers will save 500 million kWh of electricity and 0.5 million tons of CO2. The new policy is valid through December 31, 2020, after which BEE will evaluate the policy and determine next steps. At current levels, the new policy has the potential to generate up to 28 billion kWh of electricity savings and 23 million tons of CO2 emissions reductions by 2030.

Since 2001, CLASP has provided comprehensive support to the Government of India and BEE to build, strengthen, and accelerate India’s appliance energy efficiency policies, a cornerstone of India’s climate change mitigation agenda. CLASP has supported BEE in the development of all of India’s cooling-related energy efficiency policies. CLASP’s work in India includes strategic advice on product selection, developing new product policies through energy performance standards, building test laboratory capacity, evaluation and revision of existing policies, training and institutional capacity building, and market transformation programs for super-efficient appliances. Learn more about CLASP’s India work here.


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