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Godrej Appliances working on new air conditioning technology to reduce energy consumption by 80 per cent

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on December 06, 2019 Published on December 06, 2019

Kamal Nandi, Business Head & Executive Vice-President, Godrej Appliances. File photo   -  Debasish Bhaduri

Deadline given for the prototype of this technology concept is April 2020, says company's Business Head and Executive Vice President

Godrej Appliances is working on a new technology to reduce energy consumption by 80 per cent for its air conditioners (ACs), as part of a competition instituted by a coalition of the Government of India and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), for which the company has emerged as one of the eight finalists.

Godrej Appliances is the only Indian brand to have qualified as a finalist, said Kamal Nandi, Business Head and Executive Vice President, Godrej Appliances.

This competition entailed a challenge to explore innovative solutions to the climate change threat posed by the growing demand for residential air conditioning. It saw over 2,100 registrations, with 139 applications from across 31 countries. It also specifies 2x as the limit for the increase in price and increase in size of the ACs post incorporation of this new technology. This, along with the slashing of energy consumption by 80 per cent, will have to be met to qualify for the award, said Nandi.

This new technology, which is still in its conceptual stage, would incorporate a conglomeration of technologies like vapour compression, evaporative cooling and solar, said Nandi. This will be applicable only for room ACs.

The deadline given for the prototype of this technology concept is April 2020, followed by testing for about six months, said Nandi. Post this, the company will have to make the final product and put it into trial.

Products by Godrej Appliances which incorporate this technology can be expected in around 2-2.5 years, said Nandi. Once successfully prototyped and tested, the brand will work towards the inclusion of the technology in the product portfolio, irrespective of the prize outcome or the outcome of the competition, said Nandi..

The company has set up a team of four people, guided by two senior members, at the company’s R&D centre in Pune to work on this technology.

On the kind of investment that will be going into developing this technology, Nandi said it is after the prototype comes into being that the company will make an assessment of the sort of investment that will be required in terms of technology, plant and machinery. By April, it will complete the prototype and once it is approved and clearances obtained, a field trial of the technology will be undertaken to see how it performs in real time and in real situations. Post this, the final design will be completed and the company will decide on the investment, he explained.

This is in the backdrop of the number of room ACs in use in India projected to reach one billion by 2050. By 2027, the country’s cooling energy demand is also expected to increase by 2.2x. The growing use of ACs is making cities warmer, the company pointed out. ACs are power guzzlers and an increase in demand for ACs will, in turn, put pressure on the energy generation, leading to higher emissions. And if the emissions continue at this rate, the average temperature in India will further shoot up, it added.

This further stresses upon the urgency for an improved cooling efficiency technology for all, without warming the planet, the company said.

Speaking about the performance of the consumer durables sector in general, Nandi said that the first quarter of the year was good, driven by cooling products, largely ACs. The same was reflected in the second quarter as well, he said. Though the numbers are yet to be released in October, ACs have shown a growth of around 30 per cent, followed by refrigerators which grew by 10 per cent, he said.

Growth in the washing machine segment has seen a dip, showing a single-digit growth. This is reflective of the current slowdown in the economy, he said.

Washing machines were the fastest-growing category around a year-and-a-half ago, when it grew at a rate of 17-18 per cent, he said.

“Because of the heat that we are experiencing, cooling products are becoming necessary, and therefore, the consumption of cooling products is going up. But, wherever there is a discretionary purchase, people are postponing, and we are seeing that trend very clearly. One of them is washing machines,” said Nandi.

Currently, the industry is growing at 15 per cent, largely driven by ACs, he said.

Growth in November 2019 is expected to dip. This is because last year Dussehra and Diwai had fallen in October, while this year, Diwali was observed in the month of November.

Demand for ACs is expected to go up from the southern states, with the western states expected to start off from January or February, followed by the northern states from March onwards. The expectation of an early summer is also set to increase growth in ACs. Overall, the industry is expected to grow at more than 15 per cent, said Nandi.

Published on December 06, 2019
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