San Francisco based Energy Foundation, an organisation that promotes energy efficiency, is planning to work closely with Chinese authorities in their efforts to improve cooling energy efficiency and phasing out of refrigerants with high global warming potential.

More than 60 percent of the refrigerators and 80 percent of household air conditioners worldwide are made in China.

However, the vast market relies heavily on enormous energy consumption, which is also growing at a fast speed, said Zou Ji, President of Energy Foundation China, during the 2019 International Green Cooling Conference held in Beijing last month.

“We see great potential for green cooling in China, and the foundation has raised more than $8 million for a green cooling project in China, with plans to raise more, “said Zou, who is also a special adviser to the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.

China is currently the world’s biggest manufacturer, consumer and exporter of cooling products, with an annual output worth 800 billion yuan ($116 billion).

According to Zou, refrigeration has great potential in China as well as many countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The foundation will continue devoting itself in a more efficient way to ensure refrigeration meets the demands of residents in the regions, he said.

China has conducted numerous efforts in recent years to promote green and efficient cooling products, with government encouraging retailers and e-commerce platforms to transition to green and efficient cooling products, initiating rebate programs including Energy Saving Subsidy and Green for Old to encourage consumers to purchase more environmentally friendly cooling products.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic regulator, released the Green Cooling Action Plan on June 13 that sets forth China’s near-term and midterm cooling targets to boost supply of green and efficient cooling products while enabling more capital to be invested in the green cooling technologies and industry.

It will also further strengthen research and development in key cooling technologies, accelerate research and development in climate friendly refrigerants, and promote the harmless disposal and reuse of refrigerants.

Under the plan, energy efficiency for major cooling products is expected to improve by at least 30 percent by 2022. The market share of green and efficient cooling products is set to increase by 20 percent during the same period.

Energy efficiency in large public buildings will increase 30 percent by 2030, with energy efficiency increasing over 25 percent for major cooling products and market share for green and efficient cooling products rising by 40 percent, it said.

“The government’s recent move to enhance energy efficiency standards for cooling products and encourage more capital to be invested in green cooling technologies and industry is in accordance with the country’s high-quality development,” said Zou.

According to Jiang Yi, a professor at Tsinghua University and an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, air conditioner ownership has grown fast in China during the past few years due to the rapid urbanisation process.

However, it’s based on the vast consumption of energy. As air conditioning is already putting a strain on energy demand in many countries, electricity consumed by cooling in China represents more than 15 percent of the national total.

Air conditioners in large and medium-sized cities contribute 60 percent of electrical load during peak summer months.

It’s necessary for the government to raise energy performance standards, while developing and revising standards for cooling products, equipment and systems for energy efficiency, performance and safety, he said.

Energy Foundation China and the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program China launched a program last year to reduce energy consumption in residential and commercial air conditioning, focusing on developing energy-efficiency standards and labels in China from 2018 to 2020.

The foundation has since been working with Chinese government agencies, research institutes, and air conditioner manufacturers to improve cooling efficiency and promote green products, echoing China’s commitment to a greener economy.