A call for China to switch directly to natural refrigerants
31 August 2009
More recently (5 March 2010), the new mandatory national standard ‘The Minimum Allowable Values of Energy Efficiency and Energy Efficiency Grades for Room Air Conditioners’ was announced by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Standardization Administration of China.
The new energy efficiency requirements
According to the new draft, the energy efficiency ratios (EERs) of non-inverter RACs allowed on the Chinese market are classified into 3 grades. As may be inferred from the following table, the minimum allowable value for EER of single-package air conditioners is 2.9, while the minimum allowable values for EER of split type air conditioners ranges between 3.0 and 3.2 depending on the cooling capacity of the product. This means that current grade 2 non-inverter RACs will be set as the new minimum requirement for a RAC to enter the market.
||Cooling Capacity (W)
||New Minimum Energy Efficiency Ratios by grade
|Grade 3||Grade 2||Grade 1|
||CC ≤ 4,500||3.20||3.40||3.60|
|4,500 < CC < 7,100||3.10||3.30||3.50|
|7,100 < CC ≤ 14,000||3.00||3.20||3.40|
The new standard will essentially enhance the market entrance energy efficiency level of room air conditioners by about 23%.
The increased requirements on the efficiency levels of non-inverter RACs will prompt the development of inverter air conditioners that consume less electricity and reduce the use of raw materials. With the increase of the inverter market in China, more cooperation between the Japanese industry, which first developed inverter technology, and China may be expected.
Anticipating new energy efficiency requirements, some industry players have already taken corresponding measures. Chinese manufacturer Gree, for example is since October last year only producing Grade 1 air conditioners, while it has also launched a new energy efficient propane production line. Moreover, several manufacturers have decreased substantially the prices of Grades 4 and 5 non-inverter air conditioners, to clear their inventories.
Pending clarification on subsidies for efficient ACs
The Chinese regulatory body has not yet provided any clarifications on how the country’s current energy-saving product subsidy scheme will treat products after June. Under the current scheme, products encompassing energy efficiency Grade 1 and 2 are eligible for a subsidy. However, with the new standard, existing Grade 2 products will be set to Grade 3 and hence should not be subsidised anymore, while Grade 1 products will become Grade 2, meaning they should only receive a reduced level of subsidy.
Increasing energy efficiency requirements for RACs over the years
The Chinese government has been catching up with other world regions in terms of minimum energy efficiency requirements for RACs and producing high-quality products. Products that were classified as energy-saving in 2004 are under the current standard Grade 5 products. Under the newly proposed standard, the energy efficiency requirements in China will be comparable to the U.S. standard of SEER 13, which is equivalent to COP 3.45.
A draft version of the new standard for RACs was initially released in June 2008, when it was also announced that a final version would be formally released in March 2009. However, the release was subsequently postponed because of the global economic crisis among other reasons.