Natural refrigerants: the Indian perspective
Stationary air-conditioning, commercial refrigeration and domestic refrigeration make up 80 percent of India’s installed cooling capacity. Currently 90 percent of India’s cooling capacity and annual refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) is based on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) refrigerants, about 10 percent is based on naturals.
R290 is currently used mainly in smaller domestic air conditioning. The refrigerant offers lower cost, low GWP and high energy efficiency compared to its fluorinated counterparts.
R600a is primarily used in the domestic refrigeration sector in India. Globally, more than 50% of the domestic refrigeration market comprises of R600a based domestic refrigeration systems. Like R290, R600a offers lower cost, low GWP and higher energy efficiency than its fluorinated counterparts. The most prominent fluorinated refrigerant used in domestic air conditioning is HFC 134a (GWP=1430). HFC 134a is also used in commercial refrigeration and mobile air conditioning. It is projected that R600a will be the refrigerant of choice for the domestic refrigeration systems.
Ammonia (R717) Ammonia is primarily used in the commercial and industrial refrigeration sectors. Ammonia also offers lower cost, low GWP and higher energy efficiency compared to its fluorinated counterparts.
In India, more than 95% of all cold storages are based on ammonia.
Carbon Dioxide (R744) currently used in commercial and industrial refrigeration applications mainly in regions with lower temperatures.
The current stock of refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) equipment in India is estimated to be 125 million tons of refrigeration. Stationary air conditioning (45 percent), mobile air-conditioning (16.5 percent) and domestic refrigeration (15.5 percent) account for almost 80 percent of India’s installed cooling capacity.
The current annual sales of RAC equipment in India are estimated to be 18.2 million tons of refrigeration. Sales in 2015 exhibit a similar pattern to the existing stock, with stationary air conditioning (44 percent), mobile air-conditioning (20 percent) and domestic refrigeration (13 percent) accounting for almost 80 percent of India’s added annual cooling capacity in 2015.
In 2015 HCFCs and HFCs account for 90 percent of the total sales in the RAC sector in India, with about 10 percent accounted for by natural refrigerants. In 2015, 44.26 per cent of RAC sales was based on HCFCs and 47.29 per cent was based on HFCs. The use of HCFCs has gone down in most sectors in the recent past. Most of HCFC is used in residential air conditioning (60 percent) and commercial refrigeration (25 percent). The reduction in HCFC use has been accompanied by an increase in the use of HFCs.
The highest HFC use is in the MAC sector (40 percent), followed by domestic (19 percent) and commercial (18 percent) refrigeration.
Sales projections till 2030:
India’s total installed cooling capacity is slated to rise about 5 times to 610 million tons of refrigeration by 2030.