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Compressed Timetable for Regulatory Compliance Puts Pressure on Equipment Supply Chain

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For the commercial refrigeration equipment supply chain, 2014 was defined by increasing environmental regulations in the U.S. While the Department of Energy (DOE) has mandated significant reductions in energy consumption by 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency is calling for the phase-out of commonly used refrigerants by 2016. As a result, the primary challenge facing the industry in 2015 is preparing for compliance.

The product classes most affected by the new DOE rule include self-contained, reach-in refrigerators, walk-in coolers and freezers, and ice machines. With 2017 just around the corner, the race is on to design, test and certify equipment for compliance. This will not only require a precise understanding of the regulations, but also an accelerated development process to prepare for the new standards.

As currently proposed, the DOE’s regulations are mandating dramatic, double-digit percent reductions in energy consumption within the 2017–2018 time frame:

  • Reach-ins: 30 – 50 percent energy reduction, measured in kilowatt hours per day (kWh/day)
  • Walk-ins: 20 – 40 percent energy reduction, measured in annualized walk-in energy factor (AWEF) calculations
  • Ice machines: 5 – 15 percent energy reduction, measured in kWh per 100 pounds of ice produced

Achieving these benchmarks will require OEMs to evaluate efficiencies holistically, starting with the overall efficiency of the system architecture and then considering each component individually. Among the most energy-efficient components to consider are those that make up the refrigeration subsystem, including:

  • Compressors — can be responsible for up to 60 percent of a system’s total energy use. Variable capacity scroll compressors offer the highest energy efficiency available today.
  • Evaporator and condenser fan motors — are often the second-highest energy consumers. Electronic commutated motors are recommended to improve fan motor efficiencies.

Per the DOE’s technical support documentation, there are many additional design options that are available to help meet 2017 efficiency levels. Recognizing that there will undoubtedly be cost adders for the proposed design options, the DOE has also estimated the amount of time it will take for the energy efficiency gains to generate a return on investment.

This blog is a summary of “DOE Regulations Drive Significant Energy Reductions” in the latest edition of Emerson Climate Technologies’ E360 Outlook. Read the article in its entirely and download the digital edition.

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