Different types of commercial refrigerators and freezers are available on the market today, such as beverage coolers, refrigerated vending machines, display cabinets in supermarkets, etc. Mostly used in supermarkets and grocery stores, they consume a substantial amount of energy: 85 TWh in the European Union in 2013 according to the European Commission, corresponding to 34 Mt CO2-eq.
Fortunately, very affordable technology to increase energy efficiency exist: the physical closing of open cabinets saves on average 40% of energy annually, energy management demand devices that would reduce energy consumption (e.g. lighting, power of components) when the fridge is not being used (night time, weekends) could save between 20 and 50%. Up to now, these options have not been systematically exploited.
The reasons for this are multiple. Data shows that, currently, the purchase decision is driven by the acquisition price, with little consideration for life-cycle costs. Moreover, there is an issue with split incentives, where the retailer covering the energy running costs of the machines is rarely the owner of the device.
What’s the EU doing?
Following a preparatory study analysing this product group, the Commission decided to encourage the uptake of these new solutions by removing the least-performant products from the market through an Ecodesign measure, and bringing transparency on the products performance thanks to an energy label.
Draft measures were presented to the Ecodesign Consultation Forum in July 2014.
They are expected to gain impressive annual electricity savings of about 18 TWh by 2020 and up to 58 TWh by 2030, enough to offset the electricity production of almost 80 medium-size coal power plants (100MW).
The measures will be discussed by the different Commission services followed by Member States during the course of 2016.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
Tighten the proposed Ecodesign and Energy Label measures. Coolproducts is concerned about a clear lack of ambition, further documented by CLASP’s research (see below) with a proposal far behind US legislation
No action is proposed on the use of refrigerants. The use of low-GWP refrigerants leading to environmental benefits without affecting energy efficiency should be encouraged.
The Commission proposes End-of-Life requirements which, apart from easier recovery and recycling, will increase reparability and longevity of products. We have recommendations on how to strengthen them.