According to a WHO report, each year some 600 million people fall ill from eating food that has gone bad, of which about half a million die. These people are mostly in developing countries, where food preservation is an issue linked to poverty.
Weak (WGR) and off-grid (OGR) refrigerators are one the ways of better-preserving food in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 17% of households have a refrigerator, and appliance ownership among off-grid households is substantially lower. Off-grid refrigerators can also contribute to the reduction of poverty by creating new business opportunities.
Households owning a fridge can increase their income by selling clean refrigerated water or other goods to local neighbours. Efficiency for Access, a global coalition set up to accelerate clean energy access through high-performing appliances, found that establishing cold chains as extensive and reliable as those in industrialized countries would raise food supply by 15% in developing countries – about 250 million tonnes.
Several international associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are calling for standardization work to be carried out for performance and energy consumption testing of weak and off-grid refrigerators. Elisa Lai from CLASP, an international NGO that focuses on appliance and equipment energy performance and quality, explains: “Due to the lack of standardization, the off-grid and weak-grid refrigerators sold in the market demonstrate a wide variance of quality and performance.
By standardizing testing conditions and specifications for WGRs and OGRs at an international level, we hope to facilitate a more transparent market where the devices can be compared fairly and consistently and drive the markets in emerging economies such as Africa and South Asia towards higher quality.”
Request for standardization to be discussed with TC 59 and TC 82
Contacts have been made with IEC Technical Committee 59, which develops standards for household refrigerating appliances. The TC publishes IEC 62552-1-2-3 which prescribes test procedures for grid-connected devices.
The IEC 62552 series are already being referenced in off-grid and weak-grid refrigerator test methods developed by market development programmes such as the Global LEAP Awards. Another potential opportunity is through TC 82, which publishes TS 62257-9-8, specifying the requirements for stand-alone renewable energy and hybrid systems for rural electrification.
The technical specification addresses the quality, safety and electrical compatibility of appliances with solar energy kits. The idea would be to incorporate OGR and WGRs under this standard for products that can be powered by the solar energy kits equal or less than 350 Watts.
The Secretary of TC 82, George Kelly, says: "We have dedicated experts who have been addressing the needs of developing countries for the past two decades. We are happy to work together with IEC TC 59 and international organizations to develop an appropriate standard for off-grid or weak-grid refrigeration. We have notably been in contact with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) regarding this development."
In doing so, IEC would directly help to meet several UN Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 2 which aims to end hunger, SDG 3 which is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, SDG 7 which is to supply affordable and clean energy or SDG 13 which is to avoid climate change.
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