Refrigerants & Reclaim

European Rapporteur Recommends Widespread HFC Refrigerant Ban

Recommendation Would Prohibit HFC Use in HVAC Units

A widespread ban of HFCs has been recommended to the European Parliament by the F-Gas Regulation review’s rapporteur, Bas Eickhout, Dutch Green MEP, who has also called for a series of significant amendments to the European Commission’s proposal, published late last year.

Eickhout’s amendments also include strengthened containment and recovery measures, earlier bans for hermetically sealed equipment, and additional bans on new refrigeration and air conditioning equipment containing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), with stationary equipment (other than centrifugal chillers) banned from 2020 and mobile equipment (other than fishing vessels) from 2025.

The recommendation for a ban to the European Parliament is said to ensure smaller businesses are prepared for future reductions in hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) available on the market. However, the recommendations have been slammed by the manufacturers’ association, European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE), who has criticized it for going too far.

In a statement the organization said, “The EPEE has come up with a proposal to reduce f-gas consumption in their sector by 65 percent in 2030. This proposal will achieve the EU climate goals. The rapporteur for the European Parliament now asks for an 84 percent reduction, which goes far beyond Europe’s objectives and is based on estimates of the development of future technologies. EPEE calls upon decision makers to strike a balance between ambition and feasibility.”

These sentiments were echoed by refrigerant manufacturer Mexichem, which is concerned over the speed of the cap and phase down, together with the proposed taxation.

Dave Smith, business director, Mexichem, said, “These proposed changes have the potential to damage the chemicals industry across the U.K. and Europe, without delivering the environmental benefits promised.

“The rapporteur has proposed introducing what is, in reality, a tax on HFCs. The initial figure suggested is €30 on every ton of CO2 from January 2018. This would mean a tax of around €45,000/te on HFC 134a, which currently sells at around €4,000/te. This unnecessary tax would represent a tenfold increase in price, which is bad for us, our customers, and for end users,” said Smith. “It would hinder economic growth and would inevitably reduce the amount of funding that chemicals manufacturers have available to invest in research and development towards lower global warming potential (GWP) alternatives.

“Furthermore, the proposed regulation includes the use of HFCs in medical applications. Metered dose inhalers (MDIs) are the principal medical use of HFCs and are a safe, effective, and efficient method of delivering medication to sufferers of life-threatening diseases including asthma and emphysema. The tax would significantly increase the costs of these life-saving devices, a cost that would have to be met by already cash-strapped health services such as the NHS [National Health Service].”

Graeme Fox, president, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration European Association (AREA), lobbied the European Parliament for a ban on pre-charged equipment — on the basis that there is currently no way of verifying that the installations were carried out by certified professionals — on the basis that the council is also moving towards mandatory f-gas certification for installers.

“We have been encouraged by the council taking our concerns over pre-charged equipment on-board,” said Fox.

“I’m not overly surprised by the rapporteur’s recommendations. This is part of the political bargaining process, and though it’s been reported that some MEPs have been concerned with how far the recommendations have gone, I foresee a compromise on some of the key points.”

Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee were expected to vote on the amendments on June 19. The results of that vote were not available as of presstime.

Content for the European Spotlight is provided courtesy of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning magazine, London. For more information, visit www.racplus.com.

Publication date: 6/24/2013 

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