Tue, December 07, 2021

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Japan to revise energy-saving targets for air conditioners


For the first time in 15 years, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry will revise its targets for the energy-saving performance of household air conditioners, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Scheduled for next fiscal year, the revisions will require manufacturers to save about 30% more energy than the current level by fiscal 2027.

Heaters and air conditioners account for about 30% of energy consumption in the household sector. By promoting energy-saving efforts, the ministry will make more progress toward decarbonization.

It also hopes that the revisions will boost sales of Japanese makers' high-performance air conditioners in overseas markets.

Under the so-called top runner method, the product with the best energy-saving performance is set as the target for each item. Manufacturers must make their products meet the targets over a certain period of time. Since the revision of the Rationalizing Energy Use Law in 1998, this method has been applied to air conditioners and passenger cars, and currently covers 32 items.

The government is aiming to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 46% from the fiscal 2013 level by fiscal 2030. It is aiming to expand the use of renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind power, but there are still many issues to be addressed, such as the lack of suitable sites to build such facilities.

Under these circumstances, energy-saving efforts can reduce electricity consumption and curb thermal power generation, which produces a large amount of carbon dioxide.

A draft of the government's new basic energy plan, to be approved by the Cabinet at the end of October, includes a plan to reduce electricity demand in fiscal 2030 by more than 10% from the fiscal 2013 level by promoting energy-saving measures. Saving energy while using air conditioners is one of the pillars of the plan.

The targets currently in place for air conditioners were set when they were revised in 2006 as goals for fiscal 2010. However, subsequent revisions have been postponed due to factors including the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Currently, almost all air conditioners sold domestically have achieved the fiscal 2010 targets.

In recent years, manufacturers have been focusing on the development of new functions using AI to distinguish their products, in addition to energy-saving performance. They have little incentive to actively develop new energy-saving technologies, so the ministry is establishing new targets.

From fiscal 2027 forward, the ministry will be authorized to publicize company names or impose fines if manufacturers do not comply with advisories or orders to meet the targets.

The envisaged revision in fiscal 2022 will include a five-year grace period for manufacturers to develop technologies.

About 10 million air conditioners a year are shipped in Japan, and the number has been on an upward trend in recent years. About three air conditioners are installed in each household, and their average longevity is about 13 years, meaning they are replaced more frequently than TVs and refrigerators.

Promoting decarbonization has become a global trend. China's share of the global market for household air conditioners has been growing, but if Japanese manufacturers take the lead in energy-saving technologies, there are hopes this will expand overseas demand for Japanese products.

Published : October 18, 2021

By : The Japan News