China warms to greener appliances

China seeks to save 75 terawatt-hours of power annually, the equivalent of 75 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), by promoting energy-efficient air-conditioners, refrigerators and other home appliances, Reuters reported. By subsidising sales, the government aims to increase market shares of such equipment to over 30% by 2012, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Officials are drafting a long-term plan for climate change that will focus on increasing energy efficiency, developing clean-coal technology and expanding carbon-absorbing forests in China. The country is believed to be the world’s largest emitter of CO2, the most prevalent greenhouse gas linked to climate change.

Other appliances to be included in the plan are washing machines, flat-screen televisions, microwave ovens, rice cookers, electromagnetic ovens, water heaters, computer screens and electrical motors. So far, only air-conditioner subsidies – of 300 yuan (US$44) to 850 yuan (US$125) — have been detailed. Those subsidies alone, the commission said, would save up to six terawatt-hours of power a year if the green market share exceeds 30%, from the current 5%. A terawatt is one trillion watts.

Air conditioning consumes 20% of China’s power and accounts for almost 40% of power use in summer peak-demand times in cities, the commission said. Electrical motors and the systems they drive consume 60% of Chinese power production, but less than 2% of motors sold domestically are energy efficient.

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