As summer temperatures rise, EESL’s super-efficient air conditioning program aims to encourage energy-efficient cooling.
Space cooling represents a significant proportion of the overall greenhouse gas emissions. (Eigene Fotografie/Wikimedia Commons)
By 2030, cooling buildings during the hot summer months will be an important issue. A study by the International Energy Agency projects that by 2050 the cooling degree days (CDDs) will increase by around 25 percent globally, with a larger share in tropical regions. Southern and Eastern Asia will see an increase in CDDs ranging from 15 percent to 40 percent.
A degree day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, compares the average outdoor temperatures recorded for a location to a standard temperature. The more extreme the outside temperature, the higher the number of degree days. A high number of degree days generally means that more cooling is required to maintain a comfortable temperature, which results in higher levels of energy use for space cooling. Hence, the way that countries cool down will be important from various perspectives, including effectiveness, economics and environmental standards, as it can have a pronounced effect on the problem of global warming.
With the importance of energy efficiency in mind, EESL’s (Energy Efficiency Services Limited) super-efficient air conditioning (SEAC) program has been developed to support India’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, Kigali Amendment and in alignment with the India Cooling Action Plan.
The program, through collaborations with leaders in the air conditioning industry, introduced super-efficient room air conditioners in the market. Specifically, the SEAC program aims to encourage the use of highly energy-efficient air conditioners made affordable through a bulk procurement model.
In the pilot phase, 50,000 super-efficient air conditioners are expected to be installed across India, resulting in annual energy savings of 107 million kilowatts and annual mitigation of 91,000 tons of greenhouse gases.
Super-efficient air conditioners
Air conditioners are considered a luxury item in India and most households cannot afford these. However, the risk of heatstroke, heart attacks and other heat-related medical issues is an important concern. The need for air conditioners, in spite of the price, has increased in recent years as summer temperatures have created a rising need for cooling in households across the country. A large part of addressing the rising demand in a climate-conscious manner is consumer education about super-efficient air conditioners.
Tanmay Tathagat, director at New Delhi-based Environmental Design Solutions, says consumer engagement will be a key component in increasing awareness about the benefits of energy-efficient technologies. “We have leveraged the public sector and institutional consumers to aggregate the first large-scale demand for super-efficient technologies,” says Tathagat. He added that household consumers will be the ultimate beneficiary of the SEAC program as cooling appliances will become increasingly affordable and thus catalyze market transformation.
According to Tathagat, SEACs are not only 30 to 40 percent more efficient than typical air conditioners, but also use zero Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) and low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants for a lower environmental impact. GWP is a measure of how much global warming is caused by a refrigerant. “To encourage consumer demand, EESL is also offering 100 percent upfront financing along with comprehensive after-sales support,” he says, adding that the program has resulted in a price drop of 22 percent for split air conditioners, and encouraged all major manufacturers to start supplying SEACs.
The SEAC program is also expected to reduce energy consumption by about 40 percent through its inverter technology, which allows the air conditioners to lower power consumption when less cooling is required. The super-efficient split air conditioners have been tested to deliver cooling in all places where the outside temperature falls in the range of 18 to 52 degrees Celsius, and are extra-quiet.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is playing a major role in moving this technology forward in India. Market transformation toward sustainable cooling is an important aspect of USAID’s MAITREE program, which supports large-scale building energy efficiency efforts in collaboration with various public and private agencies. Program activities include energy-efficient design for new buildings, retrofitting of existing buildings and energy-efficient operations and management.
“The USAID MAITREE team worked with EESL in developing a vision and work plan for achieving the widespread adoption of super-efficient air conditioning devices and the net zero approach, including financial models and market analysis,” says Tathagat.
In addition, a program for facilitating SEAC retrofitting according to standardized practices has been instituted. These practical aims are backed up by a robust awareness and education program, through the development of toolkits and sales brochures for the super-efficient air conditioners. “These will support the EESL team in succinctly explaining the salient features of the product and calculating the cost benefit for potential customers,” says Tathagat.
A cooler future
Extreme heat and climate challenges impact all aspects of daily life. Everything, from school and work schedules to harvests and social lives, is impacted. With higher temperatures on the horizon and increased consciousness of the impact that cooling technologies can have on the environment, the super-efficient air conditioning devices will play a vital role in the coming years.
Natasa Milas is a freelance writer based in New York City.