Subsidy may be on the table to warm up China's industry

2008-07-16 01:23:02 GMT       2008-07-16 09:23:02 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

BEIJING, July 16 -- The government is said to be considering providing subsidies to users and manufacturers of energy-efficient air conditioners as part of efforts to save energy and protect the environment.

Details of the policy, widely speculated in the Chinese press, have yet to be announced.

The National Development and Reform Commission has reportedly begun drafting a subsidy scheme and invite suggestions from manufacturers on ways to effectively promote the use of more energy-saving air conditioners.

The national standard classifies air conditioners into five grades from 1 to 5 according to the level of their energy consumption. A smaller number indicates higher efficiency. The standard took effect on March 1, 2005.

In the domestic electrical appliances market, most air conditioners on sale are graded between 3 and 5, indicating there is room for improvement in efficiency.

Ji Guangfei, a salesman in a home electrical appliances shop in Beijing, said: "Around 80 percent of air conditioners in our shop are graded from 3 to 5. Their prices are much lower than those in grade 1 or 2."

Ji added that his shop has to cater to consumers' needs and sell the cheaper products that most prefer. "It isn't realistic to stock too many energy-efficient air conditioners as they don't sell as well as the traditional ones."

According to Ji, energy-efficient air conditioners are usually priced double or even higher than the traditional ones. A grade 5 unit retails for about 1,700 yuan while a grade 2 unit from the same company could sell for more than 4,000 yuan.

At Dazhong electronics shop in Beijing's Chaoyang district, a buyer surnamed Wu, who just bought six large-capacity air conditioners for her company, told China Daily: "Fair price and durability are our No. 1 concern when choosing an air conditioner. Our company has a fixed budget, and our priority is meeting the budget, not worry about energy consumption."

Another buyer surnamed Deng, who has just bought three air conditioners for his new apartment, said: "Of course I would prefer to buy energy-efficient units if I could afford them, but they are too expensive."

The State Information Center recently forecast the total domestic sales of air conditioners in 2008 will reach 27 to 30 million, up 5 to 7 percent from the year before.

(Source: China Daily)

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