Large commercial refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) systems are big electricity users and they are very long lived, often operating for more than 20 years. Generally, the cost of the electricity consumed by commercial RAC systems, over the life of the equipment, will cost many times more than the original purchase price of the equipment.
A new website, Energyallstars.com, has been launched that allows buyers of this equipment to compare the projected life time energy costs versus capital costs, and calculate savings available by investing in the most efficient equipment available on the market.
Energyallstars.com is a vendor independent service that showcases the most energy efficient refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment available in the Australian market.
The site provides projections of energy cost savings that the most highly efficient equipment models should deliver to owners, as compared to the energy costs of equipment that complies with the Minimum Energy Performance Standards.
Calculators currently available on the site for Refrigerated Display Cabinets, Chillers, Close Control Systems and VRV systems also generate an estimate of the pay-back period on any additional capital cost that might be incurred buying elite equipment.
Energy Allstars is not arbitrarily picking winners. The team behind the site use the incredibly stringent calculation methods, developed by the Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund, to identify only the most efficient equipment in each class.
The idea for the website was born out of a long commitment to improving the overall energy efficiency of the RAC industry, and a frustration with the market forces that continue to see a great deal of capital invested in large, long lasting, pieces of equipment that are far from the most efficient available.
Shane Holt, one of the founders of the service, and the General Manager of Partners in Appliance Labelling Systems (PALS) Ltd, the not-for-profit company that operates the Allstars website, explained that a lack of easily accessible comparative information for buyers of RAC equipment had long been considered one of the major failures in this market place.
“For many years while I was working on energy efficiency programs in the Federal Government I was acutely aware that large refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in aggregate consume a significant proportion of all electricity used in the Australian economy,” Holt said. “And some of this equipment is very long lived. Frequently a major piece of air conditioning plant in a commercial building, or a large commercial refrigeration plant in a supermarket or cold store can last for more than 20 years.”
“And rather frustratingly, aspects of the supply chains for this equipment, and business processes in the Australian market, continue to result in much of this equipment being purchased solely on the basis of up-front cost, completely ignoring the implications of higher levels of electricity consumption, often found in the cheaper equipment available, as compared to the better models on the market,” Holt said.
“The most efficient models in the market can use as little as one third of the electricity of the average models in the market, a difference that very quickly pays back any additional capital cost required for highly efficient equipment, and a difference that then continues delivering large operating savings for the rest of the life of the equipment.”
“Of course,” Holt points out, “that means a very large reduction in lifetime Greenhouse Gas Emissions as well.”
PALS set up Energy Allstars focused on the most energy intensive classes of commercial RAC equipment because it is an area which has potential to deliver total emissions reductions of national significance across the entire stock of equipment.
Michael McCann, one of the founders of PALS and an author of Cold Hard Facts 2, a 2014 study of the cooling economy in Australia, pointed out that that the total stock of equipment employed delivering refrigeration and air conditioning services in Australia was estimated to consume as much as 22% of all distributed electricity in 2012, and produced nearly 12% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions in that year.
“The Allstars website is focused on the large, long living classes of equipment because those are the purchases that lock in a level of energy intensity for decades,” McCann said. “And at the same time the cost to whoever is paying the electricity bill at facilities, where too often we see the least efficient equipment in the market being installed, is a completely unnecessary waste.”
“You could regard the failure of this market to provide purchasers with the right conditions to invest in the best, and the resulting costs to tenants and facilities owners over the decades ahead as a sort of inefficiency tax,” McCann said, “and one that is by and large completely avoidable.”
“If we were to be optimistic about the prospects for this market,” McCann said, “we could see better information, such as that provided by energyallstars.com, changing buyer behavior and delivering in aggregate as much as a 2% reduction in national annual emissions by 2030, from just these few classes of essential equipment, and over the same period we would save business owners billions of dollars in avoided energy costs.”
“Happily in this industry,” Shane Holt said, “more than in many others, improved energy efficiency and significant emissions reductions are highly economic propositions.”