Transforming Thailand's Cooling Sector with NatRefs

By Devin Yoshimoto, Dec 04, 2019, 10:19 4 minute reading

The RAC NAMA project is moving the country towards energy-efficient refrigeration and air conditioning products by using natural refrigerants like propane – and establishing a model for developing countries.

Dr. Kittisak Prukkanone, Thailand's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, at ATMOsphere Asia 2019.

Thailand's climate is hot, and energy demand from the refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) sector is rising fast.

Energy demand for household cooling in Thailand is projected to grow from around 1,000kWh per household in 2015 to 2,500kWh per household in 2030. There’s also the rising number of refrigeration systems needed in the country's growing cold chain of conve- nience stores, supermarkets, refrigerated transport, cold storage warehouses, and food manufacturing facilities.

All of this contributes to Thailand’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which, under the Paris Agreement, the country is committed to reducing by 20%, as compared to business as usual (BAU) by 2030. A BAU scenario would elevate Thailand’s GHG emissions to 555Mt (million metric tons) of CO2e by 2030, which means the country needs to cut emissions by 111Mt of CO2e before then, noted Dr. Kittisak Prukkanone, Director of the Measure and Mechanism Development Section of Thailand's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

To address its growing cooling needs while also helping to meet its emissions goals, Thailand’s five-year Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (RAC NAMA) project was created in 2016. Its basic goal is to transition the country’s RAC industry – one of the world's largest manufacturing hubs and exporters of RAC equipment – to the production of energy-efficient products that use natural refrigerants, notably propane (R290).

The RAC NAMA project, with European partners and funding of 320 million Baht (US$10.6 million), affords Thailand an opportunity to kickstart a completely natural refrigerant-fueled path for sustainable growth in the next decade.

The RAC NAMA project’s influence may well extend to the entire Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and beyond, setting a precedent on how international cooperation can be used to accelerate a developing country’s tran- sition towards sustainability in the RAC sector. (Another Southeast Asia project with similar aims is being managed by UNIDO in the Philippines; see page 78.)

R290 conversions

The RAC NAMA Fund’s 320 million Baht (US$10.6 million) in funding is targeted at three main stakeholder groups: local manufacturers, residential consumers, and small- to medium-sized commercial end users, as well as training and testing facilities.

Since the establishment of the fund in 2017, local Thai manufacturers have already shown interest, and production line conversions to R290 have begun taking place. Two examples are Thailand's Sanden Intercool Group (see "Pushing Natural Refrigerants in Southeast Asia,” Accelerate Magazine, September 2019) and The Cool, which are two of the country's largest manufacturers of commercial refrigeration equipment. Several additional agreements are ongoing and others will take place in the next few months, according to GIZ, the project's implementer.

Most recently, on October 1, GIZ and Thai manufacturer Saijo Denki signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU cemented collaboration in "the transfer of knowledge and the procure- ment of state- of-the-art equipment necessary for the manufacture of natural refrigerant-based technologies, which include air-to-water heat pump, chiller and monobloc air conditioner," according to a GIZ press release. "The MoU formalizes two years of ongoing cooperation and is part of Saijo Denki’s internationalization and innovation strategy.” 

RAC NAMA at a Glance

The RAC NAMA (Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) project provides financial, technical, and policy support to Thailand's refrigeration and air conditioning industry stakeholders, focusing on four main RAC product types: domestic refrigerators, commer- cial refrigerators, room air conditioners, and chillers.

Considered the pioneering climate-fi- nance project in Thailand, RAC NAMA was commissioned in 2016 by the NAMA Facility, a joint initiative between the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety and the U.K.'s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that supports "developing and emerging economies to deliver on their Paris Agreement commitments," according to the NAMA Facility website.

The RAC NAMA project uses GIZ, Germany's international cooperation agency, as the main implementer. shecco (publisher of Accelerate Magazine) is a key executing partner for the project.

The project is being carried out in coop- eration with the Thai Government, repre- sented by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP), the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE), and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

The RAC NAMA Fund is the main financial instrument for the project, with EGAT serving as the official Project Fund Manager. For more information on the RAC NAMA Fund, click here.

By Devin Yoshimoto

Dec 04, 2019, 10:19




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