The European Union Council adopted a revised regulation governing the use of partly fluorinated hydrocarbons or so-called F-Gases in April 2014. This was part of the EU Council’s climate and energy strategy and its ‘20-20-20 targets’, resulting in a legislative package that aims to bring about a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020.
To minimise the impact of F-Gases on global warming, the EU Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases as the long-awaited revision of the F-Gas Regulation. New regulations such as the ban on refrigerants that have a particularly strong impact on the climate should help the EU achieve its climate targets and promote the use of technologies in the refrigeration and air-conditioning branch, which significantly reduce environmental impact.
To be effective from 1 January 2015, the revised F-Gas Regulation has specific implications for manufacturers, system planners and operators. eurammon has put together the most important facts and background data on the forthcoming F-Gas Regulation.
Core elements of the revised F-Gas Regulation
The targets of the revised F-Gas Regulation will be implemented with the following measures: Phase-down, which will involve gradually reducing the availability of F-Gases in the market; Restrictions on use, wherein F-Gases that are particularly harmful to the climate will be gradually prohibited; Quota system, where F-Gas quotas will be allocated to manufacturers and importers to control actual consumption; Leak tests for refrigeration and air-conditioning systems to avoid leakages through stricter regulations; Extended operator obligations, requiring operators to ensure installation, maintenance, servicing, repairs or decommissioning is performed only by certified personnel.
Phase-down – gradual reduction in the available quantity of F-Gas
EU plans to gradually reduce the permitted total quantity of F-Gases from January 2015. The reference point (100%) consists of the mean available quantity of F-Gases on the market in the period 2009 to 2012. Based on the reference point, the total quantity available in the EU will be reduced to 21% over six stages through to 2030.
Restrictions on use – prohibition of certain F-Gases with high GWP
From 2020 onwards, stationary systems may no longer use refrigerants with a GWP > 2,500, a restriction that also applies to the maintenance of plants with a new refrigerant having more than 40 t CO2 equivalent, which corresponds approximately to about 10kg filling of R404A and R507A. The only exemptions are systems in military use and systems that cool products to -50°C. Existing systems may still be operated through to 2030 and refilled, but only with processed or recycled F-Gases.
In the second stage, from 2022 refrigerants in multiple centralised refrigeration systems (at least two compressors, several cooling points and a refrigerating capacity of more than 40 kW) are permitted to only have a GWP < 150, with the exception of the primary refrigerant cycle in cascade systems.
Quota system – allocated quotas for more control
Refrigerant manufacturers and importers will be allocated F-Gas quotas to control refrigerant consumption with 89% of the total quantity to be shared among existing market participants and the remaining 11% reserved for possible increased demand and new entrants. Pre-filled systems being imported into the EU will also fall under the quota system from 2017. The quotas can be freely traded on the market.
The companies are required to submit reports on their actual F-Gas consumption with the only exemptions from the quota system being production outputs of manufacturers or importers with less than 100 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, military systems or applications for which no demonstrably suitable technical alternatives are available.
Leak tests – more frequent and more precise checks
The new F-Gas regulation stipulates stricter and more frequent leak tests to minimise leakage in the systems. Currently, the test cycle is defined by the metric quantity of refrigerant in kg; however, in future, the test frequency depends on the quantity in tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Regular tests are prescribed already for a refrigerant filling of more than 5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The plan is to reduce the test frequency by half if the systems have a leak detection system that informs the operator automatically in the event of any leakage.
Extended operator obligations: more responsibility and mandatory certification
Effective 1 January 2015, system operators will bear full responsibility for ensuring that installation, maintenance, servicing, repairs or decommissioning is performed only by certified personnel or certified companies. Operators are also responsible for complying with future prohibitions on use such as the guidelines for filling their systems, and on buying and selling.