ALBANY, N.Y — The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently co-hosted a workshop, which aimed to help New York supermarkets prepare for future refrigerant regulations. The workshop provided a platform for key stakeholders — including supermarket retailers, service contractors, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, government agencies, utilities, engineering and design firms, consultants, and non-governmental organizations — to discuss challenges and solutions to advancing climate-friendly refrigerant technologies in New York State.
New York is one of a growing number of states that has announced plans to phase out Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) commonly used in air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance commitment to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement. States have taken an interest in HFC regulations due to the high global warming potential (GWP) of these gases and the significant emissions reduction opportunity presented by phasing them out. But the transition to low-GWP refrigerants is anything but easy for a supermarket due to a unique set of market barriers.
“Our intention with this workshop was not only to educate stakeholders about future regulations and technology solutions, but also to create an opportunity to openly discuss challenges and identify actionable solutions that will allow all stakeholders to accomplish their goals,” said Danielle Wright, executive director of the NASRC.
And New York’s climate goals are considered especially ambitious, with their Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act calling for carbon-free electricity by 2040 and an 85 percent reduction of economy-wide emissions by 2050 on the way to reaching net zero emissions.
The DEC opened the workshop with an overview of its refrigerant regulation plans in the context of its overall GHG reduction goals. Initially, the state will target phasing out high-GWP HFCs, in accordance with the vacated Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Program (SNAP) rules 20 and 21. This first phase is expected to stem the increase in emission that are expected in the coming decades, but the state will need to go further to achieve its climate targets.
The workshop also featured educational presentations from industry experts on technology options that will meet current and future regulatory requirements. DC Engineering shared an overview of various system architectures and technologies using natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, and hydrocarbon solutions. Representatives from Danfoss, Dorin, e2s, and Hussmann highlighted specific low-GWP refrigerant technologies, case studies, and opportunities for energy efficiency.
Following the presentations, the NASRC facilitated a discussion of challenges and solutions to natural refrigerant adoption in both new and existing facilities in New York State.
“Having a diversity of key stakeholders together in one room gave us a unique opportunity to hear a variety of perspectives around challenges and potential solutions,” said Wright.
Cost was identified as the leading challenge in both new and existing facilities, including upfront equipment and labor costs and ongoing maintenance costs. The need for technician training and constraints with state and local building codes followed cost as key challenges associated with natural refrigerant adoption in new facilities. In existing facilities, attendees identified technology gaps and the need for need for regulatory clarity, certainty, and consistency as leading challenges.
The workshop closed with a discussion around potential solutions to each of the identified challenges. Together, the NASRC and the DEC intend to follow-up on these solutions to address each challenge within the context of New York State.
“NASRC is uniquely positioned to drive these solutions forward,” said Wright. “Addressing these challenges is not only a critical step to help supermarkets successfully navigate future HFC regulations, but it also opens up new opportunities for New York State and other stakeholders to effectively accomplish their climate goals.”
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