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EU F-Gas Regulation
For Operating Equipment
In 2014, the EU introduced new regulations on the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gases), including hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC). As new regulations are created and implemented, the January 1st 2020 deadline is fast approaching.
As the EU transitions away from refrigerant gases with high a global warming potential (GWP), the industry will face significant price increases.
The F-Gas Regulation is important because it will result in significant reductions in the emissions of F-Gases. These greenhouse gases produce global warming impacts that are several thousand times higher than CO2 (per kg of gas emitted). EU Member States agree that it is important to reduce emissions of these gases.
Though the regulations apply to new systems as well, this article focuses on the regulations affect existing systems. The 2014 F-Gas affects the use and maintenance of existing commercial refrigeration equipment containing HFC refrigerants regarding:
The release of F-Gas into the atmosphere is against the law. Leak checks are required on all commercial refrigeration equipment above certain size thresholds. Operators of commercial refrigeration equipment must take measures to minimise leaks. Where leaks are detected, operators must carry out repairs.
Operators of commercial refrigeration equipment must maintain records for each piece of equipment subject to a mandatory leak check. These records must include:
The Service Ban
All existing central pack systems and larger condensing units (with more than 10kg of HFC 404A) will need to follow the 2020 Service Ban. It will be permitted to continue operating such systems, but you will not be allowed to top up any leaks with virgin HFC 404A. Owners of equipment affected by the Service Ban have three main options:
Systems with less than 10Kg are unaffected by the changes to the legislation. However due to the high GWP the cost of R404A is increasing and is an exceptionally expensive refrigerant to continue using.
After the 1st January 2020 it is still legal to continue to operate system(s) with R404A, but you will not be able to charge in any refrigerant using virgin R404A.
The Use of Trained Technicians
All operations on commercial refrigeration equipment containing HFC refrigerants must be completed by trained technicians holding an F-Gas handling certificate and working for an F-Gas certified company.
To achieve price stability and legislative compliance, many of our customers are switching to lower GWP refrigerants. However, some lower GWP refrigerants are not suitable for all applications.
Additionally, depending on the application, some of the service options are more effective than others. For example, replacing the plant with new equipment using a refrigerant with a lower GWP has its own new restrictions. And, while using reclaimed or recycled R404A is still acceptable until 2030, there is no control over the cost of the R404A for the next 12 years. In many cases, replacing R404A with a lower GWP refrigerant is the preferable option as it has the least financial implications.
New industry regulations for refrigerant gases present users with complicated operational adjustments as there is no uniform solution. Consulting your climate control advisor when adopting substitute refrigerants can ensure you select a cost-effective solution to maintain safe operations.
It's our job to be the experts.
If you would like further information on refrigerant gases or advice on changing to lower GWP alternatives, please contact our F-Gas certified HVAC & Refrigeration services team.