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As a part of its plans to achieve carbon neutrality, the government will soon come up with guidelines to enhance energy efficiency in cold storages.

Cold chain design guidelines and recommendations on the use of star-rated cooling appliances are being formulated by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) to ensure energy-efficient cold storage infrastructure in India, an official aware of the matter said. “We plan to bring cold storages under the energy efficiency plans. The guidelines will recommend the design for cold storages. The layout is a major aspect for making cold storages energy-efficient," the person cited above said on condition of anonymity.

The guidelines will also have commodity-wise specifications and parameters for pulses, fruits and vegetables. “Every commodity requires a particular optimum temperature. It should not be a one-size-fits-all approach," said a second official, also seeking anonymity.

Besides, the government is also planning to bring deep freezers under the star-rating programme to optimize energy efficiency. Under the programme, appliances will be rated as per energy efficiency capabilities, allowing people to take informed decisions on saving energy and money.

“BEE is planning to come up with guidelines and O&M (operations and maintenance) best practices for cold chain sectors," a BEE spokesperson said in response to an emailed query. The power ministry did not respond to queries till press time.

Cold storages are among sectors consuming high amounts of electricity. According to estimates, cold storage facilities consume an average of 25 kWh of power per square foot annually, with refrigeration accounting for over 70% of overall energy usage.

With India setting a target of net-zero carbon emission by 2070, efficient use of electricity is gaining importance. At the COP-26 summit in 2021, India made ambitious commitments for both energy efficiency and transition to meet climate targets. The government aims to reduce total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes, and reduce carbon intensity of the economy by 45% by 2030 over 2005 levels.

To achieve its targets, the government has enacted Energy Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2022, which has paved the way for setting up a carbon trading market.

The focus on cold chains also comes at a time the government is making efforts to boost the sector, which is at a developmental stage in India.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sampada Yojana, targeted at the agro-marine processing segment, it is developing agro-processing clusters and is facilitating financial assistance to set up cold storages. Furthermore, the National Logistics Policy (NLP) launched last year seeks to boost and expand the network of cold chains with better connectivity to transportation hubs and airports, among others.

In 2021, the cold chain logistics market in India was valued at $16 million. It is expected to be at $36 million by 2027. According to data from Food and Agriculture Organization, about 33% of agricultural and allied productions are wasted in India, presenting a massive opportunity for increasing the cold chain network.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rituraj Baruah

Rituraj Baruah is a senior correspondent at Mint, reporting on housing, urban affairs, small businesses and energy. He has reported on diverse sectors over the last six years including, commodities and stocks market, insolvency and real estate. He has previous stints at Cogencis Information Services, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) and Inc42.
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