EU sees sense on HFCs
As long standing UK Distributors for Daikin Europe, arguably the world’s leading manufacturers of air conditioning refrigeration and heat pump equipment that largely rely upon HFC refrigerants; we have always taken a keen interest in the F Gas Regulation and in particular the on going review. This is one of the reasons we have supported the continued involvement of our Marketing Director, Mike Nankivell in ACRIB’s F Gas Implementation Group since 2006.
A positive step in the final stages of the review
The news that, at the end of January this year, the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee had adopted the latest F Gas review agreement with an overwhelming majority, was seen by us as an extremely positive step in the final stages of the review process.
The still draft Regulation can now move forward to a European Parliament Plenary vote in March and once formally endorsed by the Council, we can expect the new F Gas Regulation to be published in the Official Journal for implementation early in 2015.
HFCs remain a viable refrigerant choice
Why was the ENVI vote such a positive step? Well, despite including certain market restrictions and usage bans that we hoped could be avoided, particularly for higher GWP refrigerants, that will impact the commercial refrigeration market, at least we can now see some certainty going forward in relation to comfort air conditioning and heat pumps, with a revised Regulation which we trust will give specifiers and investors confidence that HFCs remain a viable refrigerant choice in many critical applications. Critical because, more much development work is required before HFC alternatives offer the essential energy efficiencies needed to reduce the environmental impact of our buildings, caused in the main by energy consumption and not refrigerant leakage.
Concern about misleading claims
As a company with several decades of industry experience, we became increasingly concerned that, well intentioned environmental lobby groups, were never the less making misleading claims regarding the impact of refrigerant leakage, citing HFCs used in refrigeration and air conditioning as having a Global Warming Potential of up to 23,000 times greater than that of CO2, when in fact this figure related to a relatively low volume and easily replaced Green House Gas only used in limited industrial processes and unrelated to refrigeration or air conditioning. We also saw repeated but unsupported claims regarding the suitability and availability of HFC alternatives across a wide range of applications, which is simply not yet the case.
Meeting energy efficiency objectives
We are sure It has been thanks to input by organisations such as ACRIB, FETA and in Europe, EPEE, as well as independent expert advisors to the EC, that the MEPs and legislators had reliable information to help them understand the real potential for damaging consequences of premature HFC bans, not least because this would have resulted in major difficulties in terms of meeting energy efficiency objectives but also in product availability and industry skill sets.
A reasonable, managed phase down
The new F Gas Regulation should introduce a reasonable, managed phase down of HFCs, between 2016 and 2030, to allow a gradual and effective change over to alternatives where this is technically feasible, alongside a strengthening of enforcement of existing containment requirements.
To have introduced wider ranging HFC bans could have had very serious, if unintended consequences that neither the security of our environment nor the European economy could afford.