As global temperatures continue to record highs, the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative has taken on a new project to identify the challenges and opportunities of providing access to affordable, sustainable cooling solutions for all. The new Cooling for All project will focus on clean-energy solutions for the growing cooling needs of the rising global population. This growing demand requires super-efficient technologies and advanced innovation. A prime example of this can be seen in India.
Rising living standards in developing economies such as India are driving increased worldwide demand for domestic air-conditioning equipment. India’s economic growth has empowered the average middle-class family to afford a comfortable and healthy lifestyle. Additionally, work environments are more pleasant and comfortable with cooler temperatures. Air conditioners, once considered a mark of luxury, have now become easily accessible to a growing number of consumers.
While inexpensive systems with low efficiency can provide indoor comfort, regulators are encouraging the use of high–energy–efficiency systems for their contribution to sustainable development. Also, outdoor components in the hot and humid coastal cities of India must be able to withstand salt-air corrosion that can quickly reduce energy efficiency. By choosing an energy-efficient system, consumers can save 50 percent or more on the electricity cost. Over the average nine-year operating life of such systems, and depending on the cost of electricity, the temperature/humidity of the operating environment, the amount of time the system is in operation, the energy savings can amount to much more than the incremental cost of the energy-efficient system. The payback time for such systems is generally less than one year.
Indian manufacturers told ICA that systems made with alternative materials were failing, and manufacturers and consumers preferred durable copper components at an affordable price. ICA recognized the opportunity to transfer the latest copper-based heat exchanger technology to manufacturers in India. In addition, ICA saw the need to educate consumers about the advantages of purchasing efficient and long-lasting systems and making sure those systems are installed properly.
Asian members of the Copper Alliance® cooperated to implement an effective technology transfer and market–education program called the 100% Copper Advantage. This involved working closely with the R&D departments of equipment manufacturers on technical details and finding a way to provide consumers with information to reach the most appropriate purchase decisions.
To transfer MicroGroove™ small diameter copper tube technology, ICA brought technical experts from China to Indian OEMs. They explained how to use the latest design software, provided prototypes, and advised on how to develop systems with low GWP refrigerants and set up manufacturing lines. One Indian company, Spirotech, moved quickly to develop the capacity to produce heat exchangers using 5mm diameter copper tubes. Other leading Indian OEMs and component suppliers such as Blue Star, Voltas Godrej and Amber Group have also begun a shift to MicroGroove technology.
In parallel, ICA launched an educational campaign to advise consumers that they should choose copper for a more cost-effective and eco-friendly air conditioning system. This included information about energy efficiency, where to install systems, how to clean and maintain systems, and how to choose the correct size system for their home.
It takes coordinated actions to introduce new technologies. The Indian government has introduced a new energy–efficiency rating system for air conditioners and launched a program to incentivize the use of the most efficient models. Thanks to the efforts of the Copper Alliance super-efficient air conditioning systems using advanced copper-based technologies are ready for sale in India.