EU F-Gas Regulation and national legislation creating further opportunities for natural refrigerants

By Klara Skačanová, Mar 19, 2015, 17:00 5 minute reading

With the new EU F-Gas Regulation in effect since January 2015, ATMOsphere Europe 2015 held on 16 – 17 March in Brussels, provided a timely platform for key policymakers, industry representatives and stakeholders to exchange views and updates on its implementation. Government representatives from France, Germany and Denmark presented about the next steps foreseen in the national legislation that will further restrict the use of HFCs and promote the use of natural refrigerant solutions.

Marc Chasserot, Managing Director of market development company shecco, kicked off the debate by highlighting that “policy has been a key driver in placing Europe at the forefront of the global market for natural refrigerants.” As representatives from the European Commission, individual Member States, industry and relevant stakeholders highlighted, the EU F-Gas Regulation favours those that already work with natural refrigerants. What also came across from all participants is that training is key to ensuring the future success of natural refrigerant technologies.

EU F-Gas Regulation provides signals to industry to move away from HFCs

Bente Tranholm-Schwarz, Deputy Head of Unit of DG Climate Action at the European Commission provided a snapshot of the key measures under the EU F-Gas Regulation that entered into force in January 2015. The HFC phase down that will require reducing the average GWP of refrigerants from 2000 to 400 by 2030 gives a clear signal to the manufacturers and buyers of refrigeration and AC equipment to avoid the use of HFCs as much as possible.

During the two-day conference a number of manufacturers and end-users pointed out the positive effects of the F-Gas Regulation on increased demand and availability of equipment using natural refrigerants across different sectors in Europe. Nevertheless as highlighted by Juergen Goeller from Carrier Transicold & Refrigeration Systems there are certain concerns that need to be addressed in order to allow for a wider uptake of natural refrigerants. One of the challenges outlined is the lack of end-users’ experience with natural refrigerants, which is necessary if they are to build their confidence in such solutions in order to reduce the perceived risk.

Goeller also highlighted that national codes and standards need to be updated to eliminate the barriers in introducing natural refrigerants. To address these barriers, Tranholm-Schwarz noted that the European Commission has initiated work on a study that will identify codes, standards and legislation that limit or prevent the use of HFC alternatives at the EU and national level.

Increased focus on training on natural refrigerants is needed

In addition, the Commission together with Member States is looking into availability of training for alternative technologies and green public procurement at the national level that promotes the use of climate friendly solutions. The topic of training was the major focus of a presentation by Marco Buoni, representing the European association of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump contractors (AREA). He highlighted the vital role that training will play in the phase down of HFCs, as natural refrigerants are increasingly used. Whilst three years ago only around 10% of technicians were educated to handle different natural refrigerants, the F-Gas Regulation creates a need for increasing the competence of HVAC&R personnel and training will play a key role in filling the gap to allow for a further uptake of environmentally friendly solutions on the market.

France taking steps to ensure successful F-Gas implementation

Florian Veyssilier from the French Ministry of Environment discussed France’s progress in implementing the F-Gas Regulation. Besides updating national regulations, the government is actively involved in data collection, including an ongoing study on leak rates and involvement in price monitoring of HFCs. Based on information provided to the government, a sharp increase in HFC prices has already been recorded since the publication of the F-Gas Regulation. Veyssilier pointed out that France continues to support the idea of paid quotas, a topic that will be re-discussed before 2017 when the European Commission shall assess the impact of free quota allocation and propose changes if deemed appropriate.

What is more, in summer 2015, the French government will update certain regulations to alleviate the burden on ammonia installations, to allow for a wider introduction of such technology in France.

Germany takes pro-active approach in promoting natural refrigerants

Katja Becken from the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) explained that the government is currently in the process of identifying all the aspects of national legislation that needs to be aligned with the EU F-Gas Regulation. The Climate Action Programme 2020 adopted in December 2014 indicates that Germany aims to take a pro-active approach to promoting natural refrigerants. While the details of the programme are yet to be published, Becken highlighted that activities will focus on strengthening of technical advisory services, training and education on natural refrigerants, as well as continuous and extended promotion of non-halogenated refrigerants, such as CO2 and hydrocarbons in commercial refrigeration and other applications such as transport. In addition, the UBA has recently published a report that identifies areas where hydrocarbons could be used to a larger extent, a strategy that could translate into further policy measures in the future.

Strengthened national legislation considered in Denmark

While the EU F-Gas Regulation will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the European HVAC&R industry, according to Mikkel Soerensen from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, its effects in Denmark will not be so pronounced due to the strong domestic regulations already in place for several years. As Sorensen noted, the decline in use of HFCs, which Denmark has already achieved, is similar to what is expected in the European Union as a whole by 2030.

Soerensen presented on the socio-economic effects of some options under consideration for further restricting the use of HFCs in Denmark. One of the options presented relates to the national ban on HFCs, which applies to all equipment except for that with a refrigerant charge between 150g and 10kg. The Danish EPA is currently considering changing this rule and setting a limit in terms of CO2 equivalent instead of kg, which would better reflect the environmental impact of refrigerants. The limit of 5t CO2eq would result in emissions savings of 3.95 million t CO2eq over 30 years, while the tax lost calculated would amount to €130 million. Soerensen noted that a drawback of such a measure could be the negative consequences this could have on small businesses

In order to enhance information and advisory activities in Demnark, Soerensen mentioned that almost €1 million has been set aside to support companies to move voluntarily to natural refrigerants in applications where the use of HFCs is still legal.


By Klara Skačanová

Mar 19, 2015, 17:00

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