The pressure is on China to cut its energy use—and it’s not meeting some of the goals it set for itself. As China’s Ministry of Commerce reports, the country’s current five-year plan includes a pledge to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20% by 2010, for an average 4% reduction per year. In 2006, however, China managed to reduce consumption by just 1.23%.
"Achieving the target is highly problematic," admitted Fu Zhihuan, chairman of the Financial and Economic Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), in a report to lawmakers who are revising China’s efficiency laws. He identified three weak links in the country’s energy conservation efforts: construction, transportation, and government buildings.
The report notes that a major step forward will come as central heating is replaced in Chinese cities with more-efficient systems, allowing households to control their own heat—but this change will be gradual. Requiring the government to buy only HVAC equipment that meets certain efficiency levels, one of the new law’s mandates, will also help.
Appliance labeling in China is also under review and refrigerator energy standards will likely be raised. Higher levels of appliance efficiency are creating a market for high-efficiency components.
In June 2007, Beijing Embraco Snowflake Compressor Company, Ltd. (BESCO), celebrated its new factory in Beijing and announced the launch of the EMB super-high-efficiency refrigeration compressor, with a coefficient of performance (COP) as high as 1.97 W/W. BESCO is a joint venture between Whirlpool Corporation’s Brazil-based compressor subsidiary, Embraco S.A., and Beijing Snowflake Electrical Appliance Group Corporation.
Johni Richter, an Embraco operations officer, came to China from Brazil for the celebration. He noted, "China pays more and more attention to energy-saving and environmental protection, which [raised] Embraco’s confidence in [the] China market."
In fact, BESCO is slated to become Embraco Group’s second-largest global production base. The EMB is the third generation of the supplier’s EM series of products and is thus far produced and sold only in the China market. The increased COP gives Chinese OEMs more opportunity to upgrade the energy efficiency performance of their end products.
Following the implementation of an energy label system in China, energy-saving refrigerators are more accepted by Chinese buyers, and sales are growing. To meet the energy-saving goals framed in China’s Mid- and Long-Term Energy Conservation Plan, government agencies began in March of this year to develop the next level of energy-efficiency requirements for Chinese refrigerators. The more-stringent standards will likely go into effect in April 2008.
Embraco believes these efficiency standards make China a strong market for its technology. In 2005, BESCO established a development strategy focused on "high efficiency and environmental protection." In 2006, it set up a new factory in the Beijing Tianzhu Airport Industrial Zone and started two production lines for EM-series products in quick succession. The supplier plans to meet higher efficiency standards with a 2.02-W/W compressor in 2008.