New production plant for climate-friendly air conditioners in India

A group of men cuts a pink tape

Picture: GIZ/Markus Wypior

On 31 March 2012, the Indian company Godrej & Boyce opened a new plant in Khandala near Pune to manufacture climate-friendly air conditioners that use propane (R290) as a natural coolant. This marks an important milestone in a project assisted by the International Climate Initiative (ICI).

Since 2008, the ICI has been supporting this project, which is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the National Ozone Unit in India; the objective is to introduce ozone-friendly and climate-friendly natural coolants for use in air conditioners. The reasoning is that primarily halogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are being used in the air conditioner market, and these damage the ozone layer and contribute to climate change. According to the Montreal Protocol, the production and use of HCFC gases worldwide must be gradually reduced starting in 2013. Therefore, there is high demand for alternative technologies in this fast-growing sector. In most cases, the manufacturers move to using ozone-friendly, but still climate-damaging HFC gases. However, Godrej & Boyce is the first, and so far the only Indian company that has been using natural coolants to produce refrigerators since 2002. It was therefore selected for this pilot project. 

The project demonstrates the technical and financial feasibility of climate-friendly appliances that use natural coolants. The new plant can manufacture around 180,000 air conditioners per year. When the plant is operating at full capacity, up to one million tonnes of greenhouse gases can be saved, based on the appliances having an average service life of ten years. The company has also improved its current models by reducing the filling quantity, thus making the product safer. In addition, energy consumption has been reduced and the appliances now meet the highest energy efficiency standards in India. In this way, the appliances also protect the environment and the climate through low energy consumption. 

The ICI already achieved a number of successes in this area. For example, a year ago, a Chinese manufacturer of air conditioners received help from a similar ICI project to adapt one of its production plants to produce appliances that use natural coolants. A total of 18 additional production plants are to follow by 2015. Both ICI projects send an important message to developing countries and emerging economies, as they influence the future selection of technology in the rapidly developing market for air conditioners.