China warms to greener refrigerators and air-cons

BEIJING (Reuters) - China aims to save 75 terawatt hours of power per year, the equivalent of 75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, by promoting energy-efficient air-conditioners and other home appliances.

A man carries a refrigerator on his bicycle in a street in Shanghai October 15, 2007. REUTERS/Nir Elias

The government plans to raise the market shares of such appliances to over 30 percent by 2012 by subsidizing sales, the National Development and Reform Commission said.

The appliances include air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, flat screen television sets, microwave ovens, rice cookers, electromagnetic ovens, water heaters, computer screens and electrical motors.

China is widely believed to be the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the gas from fossil fuels, industry, farming and land clearance that is accumulating in the air, trapping more solar radiation and threatening to overheat the globe.

It is drafting a long-term plan for climate change that will focus on raising energy efficiency, developing clean-coal technology and expanding carbon-absorbing forests.

The commission has detailed the first batch of makers and types of air conditioners whose sales would be subsidized by 300 yuan ($44) to 850 yuan each by Beijing, a move which would alone save up to 6 terawatt hours of power a year if their market share rises to more than 30 percent from the current 5 percent.

A terawatt equals one trillion watts. China has yet to detail subsidies for other household goods.

Air conditioning consumes 20 percent of China’s power and accounts for nearly 40 percent of power use during peak demand time in summer in cities, according to the commission.

China produced more than 70 million air conditioners in 2008 and over 40 percent of them were exported.

It also produced nearly 200 gigawatts in electrical motor power last year and over a quarter were shipped abroad.

Electrical motors and the systems they drive consume 60 percent of China’s power production but less than 2 percent of the motors sold on the domestic market are energy efficient.

Reporting by Jim Bai and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Nick Macfie