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Market Evaluation for High Electricity Consuming Products in Central America: Industrial Motors and Room Air Conditioners in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama

In 2005, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) approved a full sized project (FSP) to trigger the development of markets for energy efficiency in the industrial and commercial sectors throughout Central America.  This project, called PEER (Programa en Eficiencia Energética para Centroamérica) is now being implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and executed by BUN-CA — a not-for-profit organization committed with the development of renewable energy and energy efficient markets in Central America. The 5-year program includes several focus areas:  training; dissemination of energy efficiency information resources, an investment portfolio; and energy policy development in the electricity sector. A significant component will focus on the development of standards and labeling (S&L) programs for key products including: air conditioners, motors, and lighting.

The strategic goal of PEER is to: “remove the barriers that inhibit the implementation of energy efficiency (EE) measures in order to promote a market transformation for the efficient use of electricity” in the industrial and commercial service sectors, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These barriers include:

  1. A lack of appropriate regulation for technical specifications with respect to efficiency; and
  2. A lack of awareness of energy efficiency among consumers (end-users), power distributors, policy makers, and retailers.

In a first step towards addressing these barriers, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) contributed to strengthening the efforts of UNDP-GEF by co-sponsoring a Market Study covering air conditioners and industrial motors, and effort which has been done for the first time in Central America .  USAID along with USEPA also provided support in the summer of 2006 bolstering several stakeholder workshops and study tours developed by BUN-CA and CLASP as a part of a Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP)—funded project on S&L in Central America.

The Market Study provides an initial technical basis for decision-making process of Central American governments considering standards and labeling programs. The questions addressed were:

  • How important are these products to energy consumption?
  • How is the market for these products configured?
  • What are the sources of these products?
  • What is the current level of efficiency for these products, and the potential for improvement?

In order two answer these questions, a CLASP expert from LBNL teamed with in-country experts from BUN-CA to gather data for each product in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama. Data were gathered from a variety of institutional sources including: energy ministries; trade literature; and customs agencies.

Most importantly, the team surveyed and interviewed stakeholders in each country representing equipment distributors, testing agencies and public agencies.  The result is the most comprehensive study of the market and technical characteristics of air conditioners and industrial motors performed in the region to date.

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