The European Union is, therefore, taking regulatory action to control F-gases as part of its policy to combat climate change.
A first F-gas Regulation was adopted in 2006 and succeeded in stabilising EU F-gas emissions at 2010 levels.
A new Regulation, which replaces the first and applies from 1 January 2015, strengthens the existing measures and introduces a number of far-reaching changes. By 2030 it will cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds compared with 2014 levels.
What is F-Gas?
Simply speaking, F-Gas is an abbreviation for "Fluorinated Gases". These are man-made gases used for a multitude of application but primarily within the refrigeration industry and are used globally in all refrigeration equipment. When released into the atmosphere, they are low in toxicity and flammability but are high in global warming potential.
What is Global Warming Potential?
Whilst these gases are safe to be released into the atmosphere, they are "greenhouse gases" with varying levels of GWP (Global Warming Potential). The GWP is a calculated factor based on a comparison between the amount of the heat trapped in the atmosphere by a gas and the amount of heat trapped by carbon dioxide. Essentially, the higher the expressed number, the more global warming potential the gas has.
Each gas is also measured using its Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), although this was more relevant in older Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) gases. Currently used Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC gases) do not contain chlorine and essentially have an ODP of 0.
Through regulation of the type of gases used in the refrigeration industry, the world's leaders plan to reduce global warming and eventually return the ozone layer to its original levels.
What types of gases will be banned from 2020?
Since 2015, the EU has gradually been cutting the availability of HFC gases. Over a 15 years period, the EU will control the levels of HFC gases available to the refrigeration industry and therefore, the prices of currently common gases will increase drastically.
Gases such as R404A and R507 have been found to have high GWP. These will be banned from 2020 for stationary refrigeration systems with a charge greater than 10kg.
The EU has sent a very clear message - HFC is not a viable long-term solution and action needs to be taken now.
How does this affect our business?
The F-gas regulations, which were introduced in January 2015, ban all new equipment using HFC refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of over 2500, by the year 2020. Users will also no longer be permitted to use virgin gases, with a GWP over 2500 for top-ups.
A phase down will also limit the total supply of HFCs based on the baseline figure of 183 million total tonnes of CO2equivalent, set by the European Union. As a consequence users have already seen spiralling cost increases on R404a, which has a GWP of 3922 and is widely used as standard in refrigeration units, with the 37% quota cut in 2018 by which time all new Dawsonrentals units will be supplied with R454a as standard.