F-Gas Regulation valid
since 1.01.2015 

Refrigerant Regulation to limit climate change

Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases has been in force since 1 January 2015 and replaces Regulation (EU) No. 842/2006 governing specific greenhouse gases. The new F-Gas Regulation includes, among other things, bans on the use of F-gases and bans on the marketing and sale of products containing F-gases. Regulation No. 517/2014 is intended to lower the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases to around 35 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent by the year 2030.

 

F-gases include almost all popular refrigerants used in refrigeration and air conditioning technology. Some of these refrigerants will be directly prohibited on certain dates (see table), while others become significantly more expensive by means of a “phase-down”.

 

The European Parliament has been trying for many years to reduce the greenhouse effect, by means of the “F-Gas Regulation" among other measures. The volume will be gradually reduced up to 2032 by which time only 14 percent of the average volume between 2009 and 2014 can be marketed and sold – at the same time as there is a growing refrigeration and air conditioning market.

 

  

Year
2015 2016-17 2018-20  2021-23  2024-26 2027-29 2030
Reduction by

100 %

7 % 37 % 55 % 69 % 76 % 79 %

 

Initially the F-Gas Regulation has caused an erratic price rise in the price of refrigerants since 2017. The price of the refrigerants used in air conditioning systems has more than doubled in the period from March to the end of 2017. This trend is continuing.

 

 

 

 

Some refrigerants for refrigeration systems have been no longer available from the end of 2017 due to the quota system of the “phase-down”. The question of liability is still unclarified. If a professional is planning a system with a high volume of refrigerant with a high GWP, then his professional knowledge would indicate that this might no longer be available in the mid-term or might become extremely expensive. Operators who are not sufficiently informed about this situation then have the option, even years later, to seek damages. Or at least this is the current view of some lawyers.

 

What can we do?

Instead of using direct evaporation systems in which the refrigerant flows from the outdoor unit along pipework to the last indoor unit, refrigerant is only used in the generator itself with chillers and heat pumps. The amounts used are therefore significantly lower and possible leak points are reduced. The switch to an alternative refrigerant with a lower GWP may be one alternative – although the devil is in the detail here. All air conditioning refrigerants with a GWP of less than 1000 (in future this is planned to be far less than 1000) are combustible (or have other negative properties).

 

 

A massive price rise per kilogramme of refrigerant is expected by reducing the permitted volume of refrigerant that can be sold. Bans on the use of certain F-Gases are also ensuring that a rise in the price of refrigerants with low GWPs (Global Warming Potential) is expected. These are mainly “natural” refrigerants, such as CO2 or propane. However, these refrigerants are associated with unpleasant properties, including very high pressures (CO2) or flammability (propane).

 

These properties and the expected increase in the kilogramme price of refrigerant assumes a trend towards lower capacities. Systems with extensive pipework systems will be hard to justify economically in future. Chillers present a feasible alternative, in which the cooling energy is transferred to a carrier system, like water.

 

Direct bans for new systems:

 

Date of the ban
Affect
Max. permitted GWP
Poss. refrigerant
1.1.2015 Household air conditioning units 150 R134a, R404A
1.1.2020 Commercial chiller and freezer cabinets and chests 2500 R404A
1.1.2022 Commercial chiller and freezer cabinets and chests 150 R134a, R404A
1.1.2020 Stationary chillers, for instance in a supermarket hub or cold room 2500 R404A
1.1.2020 Potable air conditioning units 150 R407C, R410A
1.1.2022 Multi-part refrigeration systems, such as a networked supermarket system 150 R134a, R404A, R410A
1.1.2025 Split air conditioning systems, e.g. for household use (with less than 3 kg refrigerant volume) 750 R407C, R410A
The Regulation currently has other definitions or exceptions. We have simply listed here simplifications and summarieis to clarify the subject. We would refer you to the Regulation for the precise definition.

 

 

Direct bans on the use of refrigerants for maintenance and repair:

 

Date of the ban
Affects
Max. permitted GWP
e.g. refrigerant
1.1.2020 Refilling with new refrigerant with refrigeration systems with a volume of 40 tonnes of CO² equivalent. e.g. a volume of 10.2 kg of R404A 2500 R404A
1.1.2029 As above, however from this date generally no refrigerant with this GWP or more may be filled (not even recycled) 2500 R404A
The Regulation currently has other definitions or exceptions. We have simply listed here simplifications and summaries to clarify the subject. We would refer you to the Regulation for the precise definition.

 

  


 

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