On 22 October 2023, at the 35th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, the United Nations Environment Programme’s United for Efficiency initiative (U4E) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory(Berkeley Lab) launched Model Performance and Quality Guidelines for Off-Grid Refrigerating Appliances and Model Regulation Guidelines for Energy-Efficient Ceiling Fans to help accelerate the transition to more climate friendly cooling and refrigeration solutions.
“These guidelines are the latest in the series of Model Regulation Guidelines that have been developed by U4E in partnership with Berkeley Lab. Prior guidelines include room air conditioners, domestic refrigerating appliances and commercial refrigeration equipment that have been successfully deployed in countries such as Brazil and Chile and regions such as ASEAN and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).” said Nihar Shah, Presidential Director of Berkeley Lab’s Global Cooling Efficiency Program. “We look forward to continued successful deployment of these new guidelines globally with U4E and other partners.”
Approximately 3.6 billion people are at medium or high risk contending with extreme and inadequate options to preserve nutritious food due to inadequate access to cooling from fans and other sources, and lack of refrigeration (SEforALL, Chilling Prospects 2022).
Ceiling fans enhance thermal comfort at a lower cost and environmental impact compared to air-conditioning with a typical power consumption of less than 90 watts compared to 1,500 watts for popular air conditioners. Off-grid refrigeration has a crucial role in safeguarding health and well-being, and in enhancing services offered by small-scale vendors.
As of 2022, 775 million people worldwide still lacked access to electricity, of which more than 80 per cent were in rural areas. It is critical to drastically scale-up the off-grid refrigeration market to meet the needs of this massive, underserved segment.
The new Guidelines provide recommended scope, definitions, test procedures, energy efficiency and other considerations which can be applied in market transformation programmes in developing and emerging economies.
According to Satish Kumar, President, Alliance for an Energy-Efficient Economy, “India is the largest ceiling fan market in the world with more than 40 million units sold annually. Ceiling fans are responsible for more than ~30% of national residential electricity consumption. According to the India Cooling Action Plan, ceiling fans are one of the most important appliances in India and many other countries’ quests to provide thermal comfort for all. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency aims to improve the availability and affordability of energy-efficient ceiling fans while reducing electricity bills by making energy performance standards and star labelling program mandatory in 2023.”
For off-grid refrigerating appliances, the Guidelines also address quality assurance and the global warming potential and ozone depletion potential of refrigerants and foam blowing agents to encourage a transition to more climate-friendly alternatives than legacy options.
“Deploying energy-efficient and durable off-grid refrigeration equipment can help to improve the livelihoods of many communities in Kenya to ensure they keep their food and medicines fresh, as well as enabling beverage and food retail providers and fishers to better commercialise their products”. Prof. Tom Ogada, Executive Director, African Centre for Technology Studies.
While many countries set minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) and energy labelling requirements for grid-connected refrigerating appliances as markets mature, those are not yet applicable to the off-grid domain where requirements must be tailored to the unique technology and use-case considerations pertinent to this sector. In most markets for off-grid appliances, there remains a significant need to expand access as technologies, companies, business models and policy development are nascent. Consequently, voluntary procurement and incentive programmes, donations for institutional applications, and other approaches are often used as first steps to facilitating broader adoption by creating an enabling environment to reach scale.
“The contents are based on global best practices, market trends and lessons learned from the Efficiency for Access Coalition and many other senior volunteer expert contributors. The Guidelines, offer a solid starting point for setting eligibility criteria for incentive programmes and regulatory efforts,” said Brian Holuj, U4E’s project lead for the Guidelines. “We look forward to putting the contents into practice with interested partners, delivering health and quality of life impacts for families and business far faster than business-as-usual.”
Both Guidelines are consistent with the COP26 Product Efficiency Call to Action and the Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative, under which governments, business, non-governmental organizations and consumers are working to double the efficiency of lighting, refrigerators, air conditioners, and electric motors globally by 2030.
The Off-Grid Refrigerator Guidelines were developed with funding support from the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Clean Cooling Collaborative (CCC). CCC also supported the Ceiling Fan Guidelines development.
The presentations from the Ozone Secretariat Workshop on Energy Efficiency at MOP 35, which include a discussion on the contents of the Guidelines, are available on the workshop page (Session III) on the Ozone Secretariat website.
For more information, contact:
Programme Management Officer – United for Efficiency (U4E)
Global Climate Action Unit
United Nations Environment Programme