Standards and labelling (S&L) programmes for electric appliances have existed in the developed and some developing countries for some time now. In India, the ownership of assets that consume electricity at the household level has increased across both urban and rural households. The usage of appliances among consumers varies in terms of models, regions and seasons, and they need standardisation to achieve greater energy efficiency. With standards in place, these appliances offer a lot of scope for reducing energy consumption per unit of service delivery. Currently, the most significant policy initiative to improve the energy efficiency of appliances is the Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s (BEE) Standards and Labelling (S&L) Programme.
In 2006, the BEE had initiated a mandatory S&L scheme, which requires the display of energy performance labels on end use equipment and appliances and lays down minimum energy performance standards. The programme aims to provide consumers with information about the energy and cost saving potential of household goods and other equipment, thus enabling them to make an informed choice while purchasing appliances.
Under the S&L programme, the BEE had originally proposed mandatory ratings for four products. These have now been increased to 10 appliances – room air conditioners (ACs) (cassette, floor-standing towers, ceiling, corner ACs), frost-free refrigerators, tubular fluorescent lamps, distribution transformers, room ACs, direct cool refrigerators, colour TVs, electric geysers, variable capacity inverter ACs and LED lamps. Apart from these 10 mandatory appliances, there are 11 voluntary appliances that come under the star labelling programme. These include general-purpose motors, ceiling fans, agricultural pump sets, laptops and notebooks, washing machines, liquefied petroleum gas stoves, ballasts, inverters, office equipment, diesel generator (DG) sets and DG pump sets. In 2017-18, the scheme was able to avoid a generation capacity of 17,559.89 MW. The appliances are rated with stars on a scale of 1 to 5, with five stars indicating the most energy efficient model. The labels indicate the amount of electricity consumed by the appliance and its energy efficiency. This is expected to impact energy savings both in the medium and long run, while at the same time positioning the domestic industry to compete in markets where energy efficiency norms are mandatory.
Focus on air conditioners
Electricity use for air conditioning, in particular, is projected to rise dramatically in India from 48 TWh in 2015 to 313 TWh level by 2029. In 2015, the BEE began an ambitious effort to develop an energy efficiency policy roadmap for nearly every type of residential and commercial space cooling product in the market. For example, India recently revised the standards for fixed-speed ACs, which came into effect in 2016, with an estimated saving of 163.6 million tonnes (mt) through 2030. Additionally, policies for chillers and central AC units for large commercial spaces will avoid an estimated 27.12 mt of CO2 in 2020, with a potential 40 per cent improvement in energy consumption. In 2018, the Ministry of Power (MoP) expanded the scope of the S&L programme to include air conditioning. The MoP has advised AC manufacturers to set the default temperature setting in air conditioners at 24 °C. According to BEE estimates, changing the temperature from the conventional 20-21 °C can result in approximately 24 per cent of energy savings. Recently, in a major push to energy efficient ACs, Energy Efficiency Services Limited has launched super-efficient ACs, which will be sold through the portal, eeslmart.in. In the first phase, 50,000 ACs will be available for consumers of BSES Rajdhani Power Limited, BSES Yamuna Power Limited and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited, on a first come, first served basis. According to EESL, the super-efficient 1.5 tonne inverter split ACs will have an energy efficiency rating of 5.4 that makes it 20 per cent more efficient than the existing BEE 5-star-rated ACs and 50 per cent more efficient than its 3-star counterparts. Pricing-wise, these will be 30 per cent cheaper than the retail prices of BEE’s 5-star ACs.
Challenges and the way forward
The implementation of the S&L programme requires a considerable amount of technical, human and financial resources. There is a lack of established testing protocols for energy efficiency. Another tough challenge comes from the vast unorganised market that exists for several appliances, which plays a key role in regional markets. The S&L scheme requires an incentive-based promotion for manufacturers, in addition to market-based promotion with continuous and strategic media campaigns. Standards and labelling is a time-tested measure for enhancing energy efficiency of electrical appliances universally. The US launched its star labelling programme for refrigerators in 1979, Canada in 1990, the European Union in 2010, China in 2010, Brazil (for electric equipment) in 1985 and Japan in 2006. Going forward, more measures are needed in India to realise the full economic and environmental potential of energy efficient devices, particularly in the household sector.