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From running with to leading China's refrigeration and air-conditioning industry challenges and opportunities coexist

This article is from 【 China Economic Net 】;

Our reporter Zhao Binbin

According to the European Union's climate monitoring agency, the global average temperature in early June this year hit a record high for the same period. As the high temperatures continue in many parts of the world, the demand for cooling products such as refrigeration, air conditioning and electric fans has increased.

What is the current development status of refrigeration and air conditioning industry in China? In the context of the "double carbon" goal, what are the new opportunities and challenges facing the development of China's refrigeration and air conditioning industry?

Recently, the Securities Daily reporter learned that China has become the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of refrigeration and air conditioning. Many refrigeration and air conditioning enterprises such as ice wheel environment are saturated with orders, and in order to cope with the delivery problems, enterprises have adopted ways to increase employees and update equipment to ease the delivery pressure. In the long run, the refrigeration and air conditioning industry will usher in a period of high-quality development opportunities, and waste heat recovery is expected to become a new blue ocean for the development of the industry.

From following to leading

Luxury to necessity

China's refrigeration and air conditioning industry started relatively late. In the 1980s, air conditioning was almost a "luxury" in China, and the domestic air conditioning market was dominated by foreign brands.

By the 1990s, air conditioning as a durable high-end consumer goods began to enter the family, and widely used in industrial and commercial fields. At that time, York, Carrier, Trane, Dunhanbush, Daikin and other foreign enterprises have come to China to build joint ventures, which opened the stage of China's refrigeration and air conditioning industry to exchange market for technology.

"In 1995, the company entered into a joint venture with Dunham Bush in the United States, and the original factory was located in the yard north of the company headquarters today." Li Zengqun, chairman of the ice wheel environment, recalled to the Securities Daily reporter that most national enterprises have come through this way, and learned some advanced management concepts and advanced technologies through joint venture cooperation, laying the foundation for future development.

After imitation innovation and independent innovation, in the first decade of the 21st century, Chinese enterprises have been on an equal footing with foreign enterprises, and they have also acquired many old foreign players.

After decades of development, refrigeration and air conditioning from the "luxury" into production, life necessities. Especially after 2018, China began to lead the global refrigeration and air conditioning industry.

Statistics from the China Refrigeration Society show that China's air conditioning products account for more than 80% of global production, refrigerators and freezers account for 50%, commercial refrigeration up to 50%, and automotive air conditioning more than 30%. According to the Central air conditioning Market statistics, in 2022, the market share of domestic brands in the central air conditioning industry reached 48.55%, while the share of European and American brands dropped to 16.34%.

A veteran of the refrigeration and air conditioning industry for 20 years said: "The popularity of domestic brands now is very different from 20 years ago. Midea, Gree, Haier and other companies have become the global leader in air conditioning and refrigeration, and ice wheel environment has also become the head of the commercial field."

Coordinated response

Environmental and security challenges

The rapid development of refrigeration and air conditioning industry has also brought some problems and challenges.

The first is the challenge of environmental protection. "At present, China has become the world's largest refrigeration equipment production base and consumer market, refrigeration and air conditioning industry electricity consumption accounts for more than 15% of the total electricity consumption of the whole society, and the average annual growth of about 20%, the carbon emissions of the refrigeration industry more than 1 billion tons, accounting for more than 9% of the total emissions of the whole society, in the context of 'double carbon', the entire industry emission reduction task is difficult." China Refrigeration Society invited vice President Meng Qingguo said a few days ago.

"Environmental protection is an international problem, not unique to China." Li Zengqun believes that although the Montreal Protocol and other provisions of many provisions, there are many ODS green control alternative programs, but from a worldwide perspective, the implementation is still difficult.

Lin Boqiang, president of the China Institute of Energy Policy Research at Xiamen University, said in an interview with Securities Daily that the feasible emission reduction method for the refrigeration and air conditioning industry is to change the energy structure and reduce carbon emissions from the source; The second is to improve the energy efficiency of equipment through technological progress.

Domestic refrigeration and air conditioning enterprises are also going all out to improve the comprehensive energy efficiency of products. For example, Ice Wheel Environment has made energy efficiency improvement a major focus of the company. The person in charge of production told the Securities Daily reporter: "The company will not only use the latest energy-saving technology, including digital and intelligent technology in the new system, but also transform and upgrade the original old system, so as to improve the energy efficiency ratio of the entire system."

Secondly, the replacement of refrigeration working medium is also an important issue that the industry needs to face. On September 15, 2021, the "Kigali Amendment" came into effect in China, which means that the refrigeration industry in China needs to gradually replace the refrigeration working medium and adopt a low global warming potential chiller heat pump working medium.

Commonly used refrigeration working medium freon, ammonia, carbon dioxide, lithium bromide and so on. Because the destruction of the ozone layer is very much related to freon, it has been banned from use. In addition, there are many more natural refrigerant, such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, but ammonia leakage is a certain risk.

The choice of refrigerant is a continuous process of exploration, which needs to deal with the relationship between safety, environmental protection and development. In the future, the refrigeration industry will ultimately use natural working medium or other low global warming potential working medium, and what kind of technical route to choose is not very clear. Many experts have stressed that the choice of refrigeration working medium is not a simple academic issue, and even will be "involved in the whole body", the need for the national overall development and security relationship.

Waste heat recovery

Open up a new blue ocean of industry

In addition to the challenges, the refrigeration and air conditioning industry has also ushered in huge development opportunities.

"To solve the problem of 'heat', the refrigeration industry was not needed before, but now it has become one of the major problems that the refrigeration industry urgently needs to solve, and it is a new 'battlefield' for the development of the refrigeration industry." Jiang Yi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, director of the Building Energy Conservation Research Center of Tsinghua University and chairman of the Chinese Society of Refrigeration, said.

Data from Liding Industrial Research Institute show that China's industrial energy consumption accounts for about 70%, and waste heat resources are very rich. Especially in steel, nonferrous metals, chemicals, cement, building materials, petroleum and petrochemicals, light industry, coal and other industries, at least 50% of energy consumption is discarded.

It is estimated that these resources can be converted to about 600 million tons of standard coal. Using different refrigeration or heat pump technologies to recover and reuse various waste heat and waste heat sources can save a lot of energy. For example, only after the waste heat recovery of Wanhua Chemical, it can meet the heating needs of one-third of Yantai residents.

Taking the waste heat recovery project of the ice wheel environment for CNOOC Huizhou Refining and Chemical as an example, on the one hand, the company recycles waste heat through the lithium bromide heat pump refrigeration water technology to supply central air conditioning, carbon reduction can be achieved without additional power consumption; Secondly, the low grade waste heat is raised to high grade heat through heat pump technology for recycling in the park. Third, for the remaining heat, the expansion machine is used to generate electricity for the park or online sales.

In addition to the park waste heat recovery for own use, industrial waste heat can also be recovered for urban heating.

According to the relevant person of Huayuan Thai Union: "Once the coal capital of Shanxi Datong, the use of industrial waste heat recovery to replace coal-fired boiler heating, air quality has improved significantly, known as the 'Sanya of the North'." Now Beijing, Jinan, Qingdao and other cities are also implementing it."

Compared with the traditional refrigeration market, the recycling and reuse of industrial waste heat and pressure will be a huge incremental market, and will also be an important growth point of the industry in the future.

"Industrial waste heat recovery and reuse in the steel industry has many cases, factory waste heat recovery has been for the area around the public heating, indeed has a certain market space." A person in charge of a steel enterprise told the Securities Daily reporter. (Securities Daily)