Energy consumption is a major concern for both governments and consumers.
Developing technologies and equipment that minimize energy consumption without lowering well-being is an important stake for the next decade.
Financial/fiscal incentives frequently supplement regulations.
Progress on this matter is affected by both the design of equipment and systems and the running of the installations.
I. THE NEED FOR LOWER ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Energy consumption is a major concern for both governments and consumers;
– energy sources are becoming scarcer and scarcer:
– fossil energy implies more and more sophisticated technologies and is increasingly criticized from an environmental point of view (shale gas…);
– the Japanese events put stronger pressure on atomic energy;
– renewable energies are far from meeting the needs and remain expensive;
– energy production is the major contributor to climate change;
– energy markets keep most European countries in a state of political dependence;
– the cost of energy is due to increase drastically.
Meanwhile, very few people are prepared to lower their living standard and forego what they consider as conditions for well-being (travel, transportation, heating, air conditioning, lighting…).
Fortunately enough, there are ways of decreasing energy consumption for the same effect, both in the design of systems and in the way they are run.
Regulations and standards (such as the implementation of Minimum Energy Performance Standards in Europe) are used as well as fiscal or other financial incentives. The markets of emerging countries open up opportunities in this field.
II. THE SITUATION IN FRANCE
The French system combines:
– financial incentives such as fiscal reductions or credit: for heat pumps, connection to district heating, use of renewable energy…;
– regulations such as RT 2012 (Règlementation thermique 2012): a decree of Oct.27, 2010 will enter into force on Oct. 28, 2011 or entered into force on Jan. 1st, 2010, depending on the building; the use of air conditioning has to be offset by savings in other areas (heating…).
Many changes have been brought further to the law “Grenelle 1” (L. n° 2009-967, August 3, 2009 : « loi de programmation relative à la mise en œuvre du Grenelle de l’environnement), complemented with a second law, “Grenelle 2” (L. n° 2010-788, July 12, 2010 : « portant engagement national pour l’environnement »).
Their objective is to set orientations for an appropriate balance between the 3 aspects of “sustainable development”: environment, social, economy. Decisions on a precise field have to be examined including their consequences in the other fields: i.e. improvements in cars in relation to the expansion of cities.
Among many others, many measures have been taken to encourage energy savings and efficiency; many of them are in connection with refrigeration:
– energy in buildings, either official, commercial or housing, either new or existing, with objectives related to HQE or even “positive energy buildings” ; these decisions should strengthen the recent rules on Air Conditioning (e.g. RT 2012 above);
– energy in cars; AC should be taken into consideration there too;
– renewable energy with the use of heat pumps, provided they do not increase energy consumption in summer; – …
III. DESIGN OF EQUIPMENT AND SYSTEMS
1) design features must cover all expected running conditions; too often, efficiency decreases drastically as soon as running conditions differ from design features even in installations where such changes are expected (this point is especially important for heat pumps);
2) forecast flexibility: it may be important to make it possible to run the installation at various set points, especially for various required temperatures;
3) provide the system with measurement and registration devices;
4) use heat pumps and renewable energy as much as allowed by technical and financial considerations;
5) minimizing the need for refrigeration: of course, well-being and health considerations make the development of refrigeration compulsory. But, before offering a refrigeration solution, a company should look with its client for possibilities to limit the need for refrigeration (architectural, building methods… ). Those companies that don’t attempt to minimize energy consumption (including by minimizing the use of refrigeration) with their clients will be handicapped.
Electricity or water utilities have set up measures to encourage their clients to limit their consumption at least at peak hours and on peak days. Refrigeration companies will have to adopt the same approach. If they don’t, they will be forced into it.
IV. RUNNING OF INSTALLATIONS
1) set points have to be established in such a way energy consumption is minimum according to consumer acceptance (in particular for temperature in air conditioning, in relation with humidity);
2) recordings must be examined so as to check often whether the system is operating well and periodically whether improvements can be adopted;
3) maintenance is important to prevent excessive consumption.