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ACs impacting ozone layer

ACs impacting ozone layer
Highlights

The summer months are going to be too hot to handle and the sale of ACs is going to make matters worse, the Pollution Control Board (PCB) officials...

ACs consume over 40 per cent of energy With the number of ACs increasing, the CFCs and HFCs released are increasing the temperature. 30,000 AC units are expected to be sold in the next few months in the twin cities leading to increase in pollution levels

The summer months are going to be too hot to handle and the sale of ACs is going to make matters worse, the Pollution Control Board (PCB) officials feel. The use of climate-friendly refrigerants has a potential of 15 per cent energy saving but the air conditioning market in India is still far away from adopting alternative refrigerants. “There are more than one lakh residential and commercial consumers who have ACs. Air conditioners are power guzzlers and the addition of ACs to the already existing ones would increase the load on the meters,” aver power officials.

Adopting AC technology that is both cost-effective and energy-efficient could save over 192 terawatt-hours per year by 2020 - the same amount of energy as produced by 64 medium-sized power plants. According to the World Bank, in 2011, there were roughly 5 million room ACs in India, while other estimates show a higher number, up to 9.7 million ACs in 2010 for residential use alone. Room ACs dominates the AC market, making up nearly 99 per cent of annual sales. They run for about 8 hours a day at least half a year.

The latest study by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) reveals that India is slow in adapting to green technology. Bhaskar Deol of NRDC says, “Manufacturers such as Godrej & Boyce and Daikin are manufacturing and marketing AC units using climate-friendly refrigerants, R-290 and R-32, respectively. But the penetration into the market is far from satisfactory.”

“AC use already accounts for up to 40 per cent and 60 per cent of energy use in the cities of Mumbai and New Delhi respectively. More than 75 per cent of the energy load in these two cities comes from residential and commercial users,” Deol adds. According to senior officials of the PCB, ACs emit tonnes of CO2. Unless India increases its use of clean technology, it would be difficult to reduce the emissions by 15 per cent as per the Montreal Protocol, a UN treaty signed in 1987 to ban ozone-depleting substances like chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs), which are used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

Innovative refrigerants are now available to replace hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), one of the most potent of six greenhouse gases. ACs with these refrigerants operate more efficiently than the ACs. But with just a few companies manufacturing climate friendly ACs, people have little choice. Arvind Jain, a retailer at RP Road says, “There is also very low awareness among people on clean technology. Price is the only factor that is on a consumer’s mind.”

COLD FACTS

  • We can only emit 990 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2012 and 2100 if we want to keep the rise of global temperature to less than 2 degrees. A direct transition to natural refrigerants can help eliminate 5-8 billion tonnes of CO2.
  • Direct and indirect emissions in cooling sector in India (in million tones of CO2 in 2014) 54.2 direct, 333 indirect
  • Appliances are rated with energy stars. Each star rating signifies a reduction in power consumption by around 6-8 per cent. A one-star refrigerator will consume nearly 750 units (kWh) of electricity a year. That is about two units a day. Where as a 5 star rated refrigerator will consume a little over 300 units a year, less than one unit a day.

What is Montreal Protocol?

  • Montreal Protocol is a UN treaty signed in 1987 to ban ozone-depleting substances like chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs), which were used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
  • HFCs were brought into replace the ozone-depleting substances but it was proved later that the ozone friendly gas has a potent warming effect.
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