Harsh Vardhan (HT)
Harsh Vardhan (HT)

India sets target to reduce refrigerant demand by 25-30% in next 20 years

  • A major plan to phase out of ozone depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) is already underway
  • The targets were announced by Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan

NEW DELHI : With soaring temperatures set to fuel a major increase in the total refrigerant demand, India has set a target to reduce this demand by 25-30% in next 20 years, keeping 2017-18 as the base year.

The targets were announced by Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan, as he released the country’s first ever India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), here on Friday. It is also the first such action plan adopted to cut down the burgeoning demand for cooling, amidst concerns over climate change. Refrigeration and cooling cause 10% of global CO2 emissions.

According to the government projections, the building sector is expected to record the highest growth in cooling demand, which would be nearly 11 times keeping 2017-18 as base year. It could be followed by five times increase in cooling demand in transport air-conditioning and four times increase in demand in cold-chain and refrigeration sectors.

This would also put pressure on the total primary energy (in form of electricity and oil products) which would be required for cooling. As per data, the requirement would grow by nearly 4.5 times in 2037-38 under the current scenario. The government aims to reduce this by up to 30%.

“Climate action is not a technical issue, but a moral issue for us. India is the first country in the world to have a nation-wide cooling action plan. After success of the LED movement, the world looks to India to succeed in the cooling plan as well," said the Minister.

The plan provides a 20 year perspective to address the cooling requirements across various sectors and recommends ways to provide access to sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for people.

Even though India has some of the lowest cooling access in the world, considering that only 8% of households have room air conditioners, studies show that this would rise to 40% in 2037-38. Despite the increase, a major population under economically weaker sections will not have access to active air conditioning, shows the government projections.

In wake of the challenge, the government has planned to achieve at least 30% reductions in cooling energy requirement by improving energy efficiency of room ACs and fans, better servicing and optimized operations in cold chains. It also plans to provide training to 1 lakh service technicians to ensure optimum usage of currently installed air conditions.

Reduction of cooling load of building sector through fast tracked implementation of building energy codes, adoption of thermal comfort standards, enhancing consumer awareness through eco-labelling of cooling products, push towards public transport and faster adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles are other measures.

The action plan also recommends use of climate appropriate and energy efficient building design for construction of houses for economically weaker sections (EWS) under government affordable housing schemes.

A major plan to phase out of ozone depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) is already underway, and under the second phase, the most common refrigerant - HCFC-22 would be phased out from six major room AC brands by 2022, stated the government report.

An inter-ministerial Empowered Steering Committee approved by the Cabinet would oversee the implementation of the action plan. The Ozone Cell of the Ministry act as a Cooling Secretariat to co-ordinate actions with other ministries , as per officials.

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