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22nd September 2020 - back to news index

Switch from HFCs Essential for Reducing Environmental Damage

The European Union's current review of its F-Gas Regulation has increased interest in reducing emissions which cause global warming. This Regulation is (EU) 517/2014, which requires a reduction in use of HFCs (HydroFluoroCarbons) of more than two-thirds by 2030. Changing to Hydrocarbons such as R290 (Propane) makes sense as its Global Warming Potential (GWP) is only 3, while the GWP of HFCs is counted in thousands. The revised standard will be finalised late in 2021 and will have immediate effect. Units using R290 are to be launched commercially the same year.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is calling for a complete ban on HFCs in single-split air-conditioning units, and this is supported by research done for them by Öko-Recherche Büro of Frankfurt, Germany. Their report confirms the benefits of changing to Hydrocarbon refrigerant as early as possible, and of revising product standard IEC-60335-2-40, relating to charge size limitations of mildly flammable (A2L) and flammable (A3) refrigerants. It divides countries into levels of ambition to change:

"No ambition" countries do not plan to change to hydrocarbons or other natural alternatives, but only to reduce their F-gas emission by 2050, as per the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

"Low ambition" countries aim to replace 50% of their current equipment with equipment using hydrocarbons such as R290 by 2050.

"Mid ambition" countries aim to replace 90% with equipment using hydrocarbons by 2050.

"Low ambition" countries aim to replace 100% with equipment using hydrocarbons and are aiming to do so, with support from updated product standards, by 2025. Air-conditioning equipment usually has a working life of 15-30 years, so phased change is more appropriate in some circumstances.

Obviously, the capabilities and resources of different countries have to be taken into account, but the report examined the revised product standard's potential if accompanied by an EU ban on using HFCs in split air-conditioning units from 2025. This could lead to savings in Europe of 62 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2050.

As global warming increases, the number of domestic air-conditioning units required is predicted to triple by 2050. Eliminating the use of refrigerants with high CO2 emissions is essential in order to reduce the escalation of climate change. If you'd like to know how you can get ahead of the game and switch to more environmentally-friendly options, give us a call.

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