Proposed pan-European phase-down of HFCs
There is widespread European debate on the future of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used by the refrigeration and air conditioning sector as a practical alternative to the ozone-depleting – and now banned – chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Although HFCs have no effect on the ozone layer, the fact that they are considered to have global warming potential has given rise to a campaign led by some EU member states for their early phase-out.
While acknowledging that HFCs will be superseded in the fullness of time, the B&ES Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (RAC) Group believes they still have a vital role to play in the transition from ozone-depleting to more environment-friendly refrigerants. The group also believes the proposal to ban HFC use as early as 2011 is impractical in that it would require wholesale plant replacement programmes that end users could not afford to carry out. HFCs remain the most energy-efficient choice for most refrigeration and smaller air-conditioning applications.
B&ES and the RAC Group are urging the European Commission to approach the review process with an open mind – and to consider very carefully the relative pros and cons before rushing to judgement on the HFC issue.
In May 2011 the government stated in a parliamentary answer that it has no plans to phase-out HFCs. It has put proposals to a forthcoming Montreal Protocol and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting for phasing down production and consumption of HFCs over time, while allowing continued HFC use for important equipment where there are no suitable alternatives.
In light of the government’s statement, refrigerant choice in equipment would be affected by any progressive cap on HFC availability. B&ES is working with relevant officials to ensure that the timetable for phasing down use of HFCs is managed sustainability for the benefit of all concerned.
For more details e-mail Gareth Keller