Cuba has the potential to save around 19 TWh of electricity annually by 2040 through improvements in the energy efficiency of their growing domestic air conditioning stock and are taking action to achieve it through the Leapfrogging to Energy-Efficient and Climate Friendly Air Conditioners in Cuba, El Salvador and Honduras project. At workshop in Havana in June 2022, U4E expert, Víctor Mínguez, shared the results of the recently completed market assessment study which underpins the implementation of the project and provides the data on which proposed minimum energy performance standards for air conditioners are based.
In 2012, around 15% of the residential homes in urban areas of Cuba had air conditioning equipment, which is estimated to have grown by 5-10% in the decade since then and is continuing to grow. This growth will increase electricity consumption, which will, in turn, strain the electrical grid of the country (which is already heavily dependent on fossil fuels), and intensify direct and indirect CO2 emissions. The importation of inefficient room air conditioner appliances and the large local market for second-hand products is also among the biggest hurdles to pursuing more sustainable cooling solutions. It is against this background that the leapfrogging project, implemented by ONURE (National Office for the Control of the Rational Use of Energy), was established.
The project follows an integrated policy approach to transform the market to energy-efficient air conditioning products and includes the development and improvement of regulations, minimum energy efficiency standards, labels, testing capabilities and market awareness activities. It also provides support to increase the capacity of the implementing organizations and develop the strategy and tools for monitoring and surveillance of the market.
The first step in the project was to conduct a market assessment of the air conditioners in Cuba to gain an understanding of the:
- Socioeconomic situation in Cuba that may affect the air conditioner market, along with the characteristics of the climate.
- Country’s electricity sector, and the relevance of air conditioning equipment in an energy efficiency plan.
- Air conditioner market, in terms of annual sales (collected for 2020) and installed base.
- Policies or activities related to energy efficiency.
Armed with this information, the project team was able to analyse the factors that affect air conditioner efficiency and perform a comparative analysis of the existing regulations in Cuba against U4E’s model regulation guidelines to establish possible updates to the current regulation, building in an increase in minimum efficiency limits and a seasonal metric. The team were also able to put forward proposals for harmonized labels and conduct an analysis on the impact that a change in import tariffs could entail, depending on the efficiency of the equipment.
These results formed the basis of the discussions at the workshop on 22 June 2022 where the key stakeholders in the project came together to discuss progress and the next steps with the project. This included representatives from the main ministries involved (ONURE and the Ministry of Internal Trade), the Center for Information Management and Energy Development (CUBAENERGIA), two testing laboratories (LABET and Institute of Refrigeration and Climatization laboratory), MULTISERVI, an importer of air conditioners, and the regional IEC technical standards committee.
During the workshop, there was broad agreement for the proposed minimum energy performance standards, which will be further refined and finalised in the coming months, and the energy labels, with related discussion on the information they should carry and the need to harmonise them with the labels of other regulated equipment in Cuba. Participants requested further assistance to gain testing laboratory accreditation and capacity building for monitoring, verification and evaluation of the regulations, which will be included in the second phase of the project.
The workshop concluded with a recommendation that stakeholders involved in importing, distributing, marketing and installing air conditioning equipment, and the AGR (General Customs Office of the Republic) should be included in future discussions.