Savoring the gains from energy efficient refrigerators in Ghana
“The scheme is good and saves me a lot of money each month”. That is how Mr. George Effah Baffoe, a retired engineer and father of five, summed up the rewards of turning in his old refrigerator for a new, energy efficient one.
The estimated 2 million refrigeration appliances in use throughout Ghana consume an average of 1,140 kWh each year. This is approximately three times more energy than the maximum allowed in countries with robust standards and labeling programs. Such inefficient appliances result in between US$50 and US$100 of unnecessary additional electricity expenses for a typical user each year.
This aside, the wasteful consumption of electricity results in over 0.7 tons per year of CO2 emissions per appliance. Uncontrolled release of ozone depletion substances from used appliances can also result in the equivalent of 2 tons of CO2 every time the energy inefficient appliance is improperly disposed or replaced.
With the support of UNDP-GEF, the Government of Ghana launched a rebate and turn in programme in September 2012. This scheme provides economic incentives to consumers to turn in their old and functioning refrigerators for new and efficient ones purchased at a discounted price. The primary objective is to improve the energy efficiency of appliances marketed and used in Ghana.
The launch of the programme was preceded and followed by massive campaigns on television and radio stations to inform the general public on energy efficient appliances, standards and labels.
In October 2013, Mr. Baffoe replaced his old deep freezer with a new, 2-star rated and more energy efficient refrigerator. Though he had no discount since he did not buy it under the rebate scheme, he was nonetheless impressed with the outcome.
“I was amazed by the decreasing electricity bills when I replaced the old deep freezer. For instance, my electricity consumption decreased from 600 units in November 2013 to 434 units in December. Then, in January 2014 it further dropped to an impressive 321 units”, he remarked.
When, later, he learned about the rebate scheme through a radio promo, Mr. Baffoe, motivated by his current savings on electricity bills, decided to turn in one of his old refrigerators for a 3-star labelled refrigerator in order to make further savings. In return, he had a rebate of GH¢ 200. (1$ is the equivalent of GH¢2.8 as at May 15, 2014).
“I make an average monthly savings of GH¢70 on electricity bills. As a retiree, this amount is very significant for me. It is especially beneficial at a time like this, when the Electricity Company of Ghana has increased tariffs across the country. I am happy that I made the decision to replace my two old refrigeration appliances”, he concluded.
Like Mr. Baffoe, there are over 4,000 beneficiaries of the refrigerator rebate scheme in Ghana making similar savings. Beyond the individuals, Ghana, as a country, is also making huge savings from the scheme, which has the ultimate goal of reducing the nation’s energy-related CO2 and ozone depleting substance emissions, by mitigating the demand for energy in the country’s refrigeration and air conditioning sector.
The Coordinator of the Refrigerator Energy Efficiency Project at the Energy Commission of Ghana, Mr. Eric Kumi Antwi-Agyei explains how Ghana is benefiting from the scheme: “We have presently sold 4,300 units of refrigerators and recovered the same number of old refrigerators from customers under the scheme. This translates to annual savings of 2,580 MWh which could adequately power 860 individual households for a whole year. If we are able to reach our planned target of 15,000 units of refrigerating appliance replacement, a total of 9,000 Mwh could be freed with a potential of powering 3,000 households.”
The indirect savings of the campaign is much higher as it has raised the awareness on the benefits of energy efficient refrigerators with increasing sales for such appliances. This is depicted in the increase in the number of imports of new refrigerators since 2011 when the energy labels were first introduced.
“The importation of new refrigerators has jumped by 41% between 2011 and 2013 alone. Also, for the first time in many years, importation of new refrigerators outstripped used refrigerators. This aside, importation of used refrigerators dropped by 63% by the end of 2013 compared to 2012 imports after the enforcement of prohibition of importation of used appliances was started in June 2013”, Mr. Antwi-Agyei added.
The refrigerator rebate scheme constitutes an innovative form of partnership, as its running requires the collaboration of several stakeholders. Besides the Energy Commission, which provides overall administration and oversight, retail shops collect old refrigerators and sell energy efficient ones. Banks also play a role; they process rebate claims and provide consumer loans when required. There are also the scrap dealers who dismantle the old refrigerators; and finally, the Environmental Protection Agency responsible for the disposal of the recovered ozone depleting substances.
UNDP-GEF has so far invested over US $1.6 million toward improving the energy efficiency of appliances marketed and used in Ghana. An appropriate legislation has been enacted to establish the minimum energy efficiency standards for refrigerators (LI 1958) and ban importation of used refrigerating appliances (LI 1932). The law requires that all new refrigerators be labeled with energy efficiency guide. Furthermore, adequate human capacity at the Inspectorate Unit of the Energy Commission has been built to boost the enforcement of compliance to the energy efficiency labels.
A dismantling and degasifying facility for refrigerators has also been established as a joint venture with a private company, which provides equipment and training. The company collects, dismantles and recycles refrigerators received from the rebate scheme following proper and safe procedures, without damage to the environment. This is particularly important for a country like Ghana, which continues to receive a significant amount of electronic waste from abroad, with a deleterious impact on the environment and the health of certain communities.
It is expected that these interventions together with public education would reduce the demand for used refrigerating appliances and increase the use of more energy efficient ones. UNDP will continue to support the Government of Ghana to promote Ghana’s transition towards a green economy and a low-carbon and climate resilient society.