If you utilise refrigerants in your business, you might be feeling confused and unclear about the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases in your industry. Read on to learn more about these gases, the new regulations surrounding their use put in place in 2015, and the proposed agreement signed in Rwanda in October of 2016.
What are HFCs?
HFCs are man made gases that were originally developed in the 1980s in order to replace the use of controversial CFCs (chlorofluorocarbon), the naturally occurring yet extremely volatile derivatives of methane, ethane, and propane. CFCs were banned in 1992 under the Montreal Protocol as a reaction to the discovery of massive holes forming in the ozone layer.
Now used extensively in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry, HFCs were proposed as a more environmentally friendly solution to CFCs. It was touted that they would not further the damage to the deteriorating ozone layer, but ultimately it has become clear that they dramatically increase the levels of global warming, far more than CO2.
January 2015 – new F-gas regulations take effect in the EU
On January 1st, 2015 new EU F-gas regulations took effect across the continent, designed to phase out the use of HFCs by 2030 by using a quota system and sectorial bans. High GWP refrigerants (especially R404A/ R507) are particularly targeted, and these new regulations encourage their complete removal from all commercial systems as soon as possible across the European Union.
What will this mean for your business? Well, in the short term it is likely that the models and units that you already use in your place of business will become more costly to repair. Your existing machines might require R404A, R507 or other high GWP refrigerants, and repairing or replacing them will be more difficult.
That said, in the long term, more options and replacements are sure to become available; for instance 407A/F could be used to replace R507.
October 2016 – Global Meeting in Kigali produces results
On October 15, 2016 a group of nearly 200 countries came together in Kigali, Rwanda in order to monitor and reduce the use of HFCs and other greenhouse gases across the planet. While this large and diverse group of countries initially struggled to come to a common ground, the meeting has yielded results. They hope to prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming results by the end of the 21st century.
Over the course of 4 days and 3 nights, the participating countries were able to successfully negotiate an amendment to the Montreal protocol treaty, and have made an agreement to eradicate 90% of the gases. While the EU is already bound by the regulations detailed above, more than 100 developing nations have agreed to start to take action from 2024 (a date that some chide for being too far into the future).
How have these changes affected your business? Have you seen a negative impact, or are you excited for new, greener options?