The UK as part of the EU has been committed to the European climate change regulations, which includes targets to phase down the use of Fluorinated gases, promoting the use of lower GWP (global warming potential) refrigerants. The EU is a global leader in promoting strong measures on F-gas reduction. This action is expected to increase demand for climate friendly technologies, creating business opportunities and accelerating innovation and economies of scale for new products. It could also lead to an increase in system design content for the application of new low GWP equipment.
The measurement of the quota is in equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide (ET CO2) and is calculated by multiplying the system charge (kg) by the refrigerant GWP/1000. This favours the use of moderate and low GWP refrigerants and systems with lower charge volumes.
The current regulation EU517/2014, introduced phase down quotas based on the consumption in 2012. There is a big reduction just around the corner starting in 2018, with the quota of supply dropping to 63% of the base figure. This could lead to price increases and shortages in the market if no response to the regulations. The refrigerant producers will be required to reduce their volume of ET CO2. to maintain their current volume of production. They will have to produce more of the moderate, low and ultra- low GWP refrigerants to achieve this.
In general terms, if you are a manufacturer, designer, contractor or distributer currently dependant on R410A systems or other high GWP refrigerants, that proportion of your business may reduce to 63% in volume in 2018, if you don’t take action or advantage of currently available products.
So where do we stand after Brexit? The phase down of high GWP refrigerant is coming up fast and current implementation in the UK will not be effected or reduced by our exit from the EU. Most of our supplies of equipment and refrigerant come from within Europe which also keeps us tied in with the current phase down structure across the EU; they may favour fellow members with their quota aallocation of high GWP refrigerants. The current version of regulation EU517/2014 has already been incorporated into UK law.
Communicating the EU message on the phase down implications to our industry has got off to a slow start and only got as far as the refrigerant producer, the compressor manufacturer and the equipment manufacturer. We have already witnessed the large multi nationals responding by acquiring or partnering manufacturing companies with water based cooling equipment.
The EU has set the standards high, taking a lead in acting on environmental issues and the UK has always played a pivotal role in embracing the policies and the latest technologies. The UK was the first country in the world to install a water chiller operating with an ultra-low GWP refrigerant R1234ze.
It maybe in the UK’s interest to accelerate the phase down process in the UK to demonstrate our commitment to the cause regardless of the Brexit vote outcome, to retain our influence and involvement on future policy at the highest level. This will create opportunities for our own industries to innovate.
We need to formulate a UK plan and direction, with clarity on actions and timescales, increasing the awareness of the phase down and the move towards flammable refrigerants with the associated charge restrictions. There are products presently available on the market operating with refrigerants R32, R1234ze, R290 and CO2, which should be utilised if suitable for your application. Why can’t we be a world leader on our own, demonstrating our commitment to environmental policy helping to accelerate the UK’s innovation and business opportunities?