Rating energy efficiency

Published : Jun 01, 2007 00:00 IST

The Standards and Labelling programme is a thrust area of the BEE.

ENERGY is one of the major inputs for the economic development of any country. In the case of developing countries, the energy sector assumes critical importance in view of ever-increasing energy needs and the huge investments required to meet them. However, the relationship between economic growth and increased energy demand is not always linear. As the world becomes increasingly dependent on electrical appliances and equipment, energy consumption rises rapidly. Each country can put itself on the growth curve by supplying more energy and improving the efficiency of energy consumption. Improving energy efficiency before increasing energy supply is an economically efficient national strategy.

India, despite having an installed capacity of over 1,30,000 MW, faces a peak and energy shortages of about 13 per cent and 9 per cent respectively. Further, almost two-thirds of the electricity generation in the country is from fossil fuels, which are not only limited but also have an adverse impact on climate and environment. The need for efficient use of energy and its conservation assumes significance in the overall context of energy security and sustainable development of the economy. The energy intensity of the economy needs to be reduced without losing sight of developmental concerns.

The Standards and Labelling programme is a thrust area of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). The Central government, under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001, has the powers to direct display of labels on specified appliances or equipment (14.d) and enforce minimum efficiency standards by prohibiting manufacture, sale and import of products that do not meet the minimum standards (14.c).

The objective of this programme is to provide the consumer an opportunity to make an informed choice so that he/she could acquire household and other equipment that are cost-effective and energy efficient. This would lead to large-scale energy saving in the medium and long terms and help the domestic industry compete in markets where norms of energy efficiency are mandatory.

Union Minister for Power Sushil Kumar Shinde announced the Standards and Labelling programme on May 18, 2006. The programme can be undertaken on a voluntary basis. It will be made mandatory after the voluntary phase. Frost-free and direct cool refrigerators, air-conditioners, and tubular fluorescent lamps are currently part of the voluntary scheme. Other products like general electric motors, distribution transformers, submersible pump sets and ceiling fans will be brought into the programme in a phased manner.

Energy efficiency standards are procedures and regulations that prescribe the energy performance of manufactured products, sometimes prohibiting the sale of products that are less energy efficient than the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). The MEPS prescribe minimum efficiencies (or maximum energy consumption) that manufacturers must achieve in every product, specifying the energy performance but not the technology or the design details of the product.

Energy efficiency labels are informative labels affixed to manufactured products to describe their energy performance (usually in the form of energy use, efficiency or energy cost); these labels give consumers the data necessary to make informed purchases.

The programme has been used as an effective tool by many countries to achieve desired results. There has been a steady growth in the number of countries adopting this programme.

Under the Standards and Labelling programme, appliances are rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with the most efficient product carrying a 5-star label and the least efficient carrying a 1-star label. The programme has been developed in a collaborative and consensual manner with the active participation of all stakeholders. A self-regulatory mechanism has been adopted for implementing the programme.

The BEE will manage the Standards and Labelling programme under the guidance of an Implementation Committee. Manufacturers have to test their equipment and give a self-declaration of the rating level. They have to print and affix labels according to the label design, the manner of display and the rating plan prescribed for an equipment. They are responsible for the accuracy of the information displayed on the label or any public claim on the quality of equipment.

The BEE will conduct regular tests to verify the accuracy of the labels. Other manufacturers and consumer associations can challenge the label. If the equipment is incorrectly labelled and manufacturers do not rectify the errors as directed, the BEE will give wide publicity to the violation of the code. The BEE will conduct the tests in accredited independent laboratories to ensure consumer confidence.

Equipment manufacturers/importers/persons-in-trade can participate in the Standards and Labelling programme by entering into an agreement with the BEE. Application forms should be submitted with a copy of test reports, label details and sample label, registration fee, and security deposit. The BEE reviews the application in 30 days. It will maintain a web site, which will give details of labels for each approved applicant/product.

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