In June 2023, the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) United for Efficiency (U4E) initiative held the last meeting of the Leapfrogging to Energy-efficient and Climate-friendly Commercial Refrigerating Appliances in Brazil project, with the rest of the Policy Working Group members. The meeting was held at the Electric Energy Research Center (CEPEL) in Rio de Janeiro on 14-15 June 2023 to present a summary of the project results and discuss how move forward with the development of technical energy efficiency regulations, including Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and labels, for commercial refrigerators.
Although the Policy Working Group has been meeting regularly during the two-year life of the project, because of the pandemic these meetings were exclusively online. This meeting was therefore the first face-to-face meeting of the group and provided the opportunity for participants to clarify doubts in person, listen to new comments, present studies that had not yet been presented to the group and, most importantly, discuss the next steps for implementation of energy efficiency regulations.
The participants, representing 19 different institutions, including Government, commercial refrigerator manufacturers, third party laboratories, certification bodies and industry associations, were also able to visit CEPEL, which is in the process of applying for accreditation for its laboratory for commercial refrigerators.
The recommendations of the project have been based on the results of several studies, which included a review of international best practices, the particularities of the Brazilian market through a market assessment, and contributions from the members of the Policy Working Group, especially from industry representatives and national laboratories.
The study identified that there are approximately 7 million commercial refrigeration units, such as refrigerated display cabinets, beverage coolers and ice cream freezers, installed in the Brazil’s commercial sector – comprising mainly wholesalers and retailers, such as supermarkets. It estimated that technical energy efficiency regulations for these products could generate savings of 2.4 TWh per year, after 10 years of implementation, compared to a business-as-usual scenario in which a policy would not be adopted. This would be equivalent to an emissions reduction of about 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.
It further revealed that the main manufacturers in Brazil already test their products and seek to inform their customers about issues related to energy consumption. However, because there is no official regulation, each manufacturer uses different test conditions, making it difficult to compare appliances from different manufacturers, as well as compare the local market to different levels of MEPS. The adoption of a technical regulation for commercial refrigerators would help to harmonize and clarify information on energy consumption for consumers, boosting the improvement in product quality and, of course, increasing the competitiveness of the Brazilian industry in the foreign market.
The project also resulted in recommendations for monitoring, verification and enforcement, sustainable public procurement, and training to increase the capacity of the national laboratories, INMETRO (the National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology) as the supervisory agency, and the National Electric Energy Conservation Program (PROCEL) to support these.
The engagement of different stakeholders that has been generated by the project and the recommendation of the Policy Working Group to initiate the regulatory process for commercial refrigerators provides an ideal environment for the next step, which is for INMETRO to add commercial refrigeration to its regulatory agenda to start the regulatory process. The technical regulations established by INMETRO will provide the requirements for the energy efficiency label, including the harmonized energy efficiency calculations and the conformity assessment requirements, which will be used to define MEPS, and other efficiency initiatives such as the endorsement label of PROCEL and the requirements for sustainable public procurement.
Speaking about the project, Samira Sousa, Coordinator for Energy Efficiency at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said, “This project, which was made possible by funding from the GCF Readiness Programme, has demonstrated the economic and environmental benefits that can be achieved through the regulation of commercial refrigeration products in Brazil. We are excited by the consensus and engagement that it has created across all stakeholder groups, and look forward to building on this, and the technical recommendations from the project, as we take the next steps to implement robust and sustainable regulations for commercial refrigerators.”