South Korea Korea enhances energy efficiency standard for home appliances

At the end of December 2020, the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) set out an amendment to the Regulations on Energy Efficiency Management Equipment (hereinafter “the Regulations”), a subordinate law of the Energy Use Rationalization Act, and promulgated a notification on the amendment as of December 30 of 2020 (MOTIE Notification No. 2020-225). The major amendments to the Regulations are made on the energy efficiency grading scheme, as highlighted below:

 

About energy efficiency grading scheme:

The scheme classifies 19 types of energy intensive electrical and electronic products into 5 grades based on their energy efficiencies and accordingly imposes labelling requirements on them. The MOTIE also implements the Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) scheme that prohibits production and sale of products with energy consumption efficiencies below a certain level.

 

  1. Introduced energy consumption efficiency standards for refrigerators, air conditioners and televisions as medium and long-term targets

The amendment has newly introduced medium- and long-term target energy efficiency standards for refrigerators, air conditioners and televisions, which are regulated under the scheme. By doing so, MOTIE aims to encourage manufacturers to actively promote development of highly efficient products referring to the target standards.

Specifically, for these three products, the amendment stipulates Grade 1 standards (the highest efficiency) and Grade 5 standards (the lowest efficiency) to be enacted three and six years later. The Grade 1 standard will be revised upward by about 1% every year whereas the Grade 5 standard will be revised upward by 3 to 30% so that it becomes equal to the current Grade 4 standard every three years. This will allow to gradually ban the sale of Grade 5 products.

For refrigerators and air conditioners, this scheme will enter into force from October 2021. Therefore, the current Grade 4 standards for these two products will be the Grade 5 standards from October 2024. For televisions, the scheme is planned to start from January 2022. The Grade 5 standard for television is expected to be strengthened by about 3% beginning in January 2025. The MOTIE plans to gradually expand the scope of the medium- and long-term target energy efficiency standard scheme to include washing machines and air conditioners by the end of 2021, as well as air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and cool/hot water dispensers by 2022.

 

  1. Strengthening of the MEPS and other amendment

For refrigerators, air conditioners, and televisions, MOTIE also has strengthened the Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) to eliminate poorly efficient products from the market. In addition, for refrigerators and televisions, the standards for measuring energy consumption have been revised taking into account the reality. Specifically, the calculation method for energy consumption in their operating modes has been revised to “the measured energy consumption × 1.3.” Furthermore, to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, the energy efficiency grade standard has been strengthened for window sets, which are the main building material. The standard for Grade 1 has been improved by 10%, and the standard for grade 5 has been raised to the previous level of grade 4.

The MOTIE plans to issue a further revision of this scheme during the first half of 2021 so that other electrical and electronic products are covered by the scheme.