An Energy-Saving and Commercially Viable Alternative for India and the Global Market: HFC-32 for Room Air Conditioners

Picture of Bhaskar Deol
Guest blog by Bhaskar Deol, NRDC India Representative based in New Delhi

(This post is second in a series of blogs on environmentally friendly refrigerant alternatives for India’s room air conditioner (AC) sector. The first post is available here, and the final post is here.)

Recently, we wrote about two viable, environmentally superior refrigerants that the Indian room AC industry can choose over the high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant, the hydrofluorocarbon HFC-410A, while phasing out the ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbon HCFC-22. One alternative available today – HFC-32 – presents a compelling case both for policymakers and for appliance manufacturers transitioning to alternative refrigerants, as we detail in a new profile of HFC-32-based air conditioners. HFC-32-based air conditioners can help meet growing energy demands in India, while reducing climate change impacts and helping India meet its climate change goals. The technology is also commercially viable. Over the last 18 months, Daikin and Fujitsu General have introduced HFC-32-based room ACs in India, selling over 150,000 units domestically and joining a growing rank of global companies that are recognizing the advantages of HFC-32. Some highlights from the profile:

Energy savings: One of the biggest advantages of HFC-32 for fast-growing Indian cities, which face large increases in energy demand, is the energy efficiency benefits of HFC-32-based air conditioners. A recent analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water, indicates a switch to HFC-32 air conditioners with energy efficiency improvements could offer a 15% energy savings over a business-as-usual scenario using the longer-established option HFC-410A, leading to a lower burden on the electricity grid and reduced need for new power plants and contributing to overall greenhouse gas emission reductions of 31% by 2050. Other studies also indicate energy efficiency benefits from switching to HFC-32 in room ACs.

Commercial viability and international market competitiveness: Daikin and Fujitsu in India are joining a growing number of companies internationally to see the benefits of using HFC-32. With over 3 million HFC-32 ACs sold globally, and new product launches in Japan, Thailand, India, Australia, China and other countries, HFC-32 is rapidly establishing itself as a commercially viable alternative to HFC-410A.

Lower climate change footprint: HFC-32 has one-third the GWP of HFC-410A, and leap-frogging to HFC-32 AC systems could mean a 31% reduction in the global warming footprint resulting from AC use in India’s residential buildings sector by the year 2050.

Indian companies have emphasized the need for clarity on intellectual property rights for use of HFC-32. There is positive news on that front: not only is the patent for the manufacturer of HFC-32 expired and the refrigerant freely available on the international and domestic markets, all basic application patents for use of HFC-32 as a refrigerant in ACs are being made available for free in developing countries by Daikin. 

Moreover, with several global leading AC component suppliers such as, Guangdong Meizhi Compressor (GMCC), Copeland, Dalian Sanyo (Panasonic), Danfoss, Sanhua, Saginomiya developing or already having announced compressors and components for use with HFC-32, one can also expect that the price of appliances based on this refrigerant will come down in the future, while availability increases.

For more details about application of HFC-32 in room ACs, please follow the link to the detailed profile here. In the next and last blog post of this series, we will discuss key benefits of another environmentally superior alternative to HFC-410A.