A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to jointly undertake upskilling and certification of 100,000 refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) service technicians on good servicing practices and knowledge of alternative refrigerants to ozone-depleting chemicals. The project will be funded under the Skill India Mission – Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).
It is estimated that at present, there are around 200,000 RAC service technicians in the country, with a large number of them being in the informal sector. Training of these technicians is an ongoing activity under the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) Stage-I being implemented by the Ozone Cell, MoEFCC. Under Stage-I of HPMP, nearly 11,000 technicians were trained on good servicing practices and under Stage-II, around 17,000 technicians will be trained. The skilling and certification of technicians under PMKVY will have twin benefits of significant environmental benefits and a positive influence on the livelihoods of technicians.
The project will also include train-the-trainer programmes, updating of National Occupational Standards, and certification. The project will be implemented by the Electronic Sector Skill Council of India (ESSCI) and the Ozone Cell, MoEFCC. It will be supported by industry and service sector associations for creating awareness and mobilisation of candidates. The project is expected to be completed within sixteen months.
Since India is party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the country is in the process of phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and in the future, even non-ODS gases with high global warming potential will be phased down. The alternative refrigerants have issues like flammability and toxicity concerns. As a result, skill training for technicians is of paramount importance, not only for improving employment opportunities, but also in educating them about safety requirement, energy efficiency and refrigerant leak minimisation.
India has been witnessing high growth in the air-conditioning (AC) market. Refrigerants used in ACs are either Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS), or have extremely high global warming potential. Refrigerants leak out of ACs during normal operation and due to poor servicing practices, causing adverse impacts to the environment. As a result, over 50% of refrigerant consumption is in the RAC servicing sector. In addition, the energy efficiency of wrongly serviced ACs is also low.