The new F-Gas regulations are here, having come into effect as of the 1st January 2015.
These rules will have a major impact on refrigerant producers and suppliers, the wider refrigeration industry (Including certain refrigerated transport and trailers), as well as the air conditioning and heat pump sectors.
The new F-Gas regulations will also affect end users, training centres and installers alike. They will require further green commitment from manufacturers, installers, managers and owners of commercial cooling and refrigeration technology.
The reason for this is simple; the global warming effect of Flourinated gases is 23,000 times higher than CO2. The EU wants to phase out the use of F-Gas and these newly revised regulations are seen as a step in its quest to significantly lower the volume of F-Gas sales by 2020 and increase the uptake of more climate-friendly technology.
Graham Wright, president of HEVAC & Legislation Specialist for Daikin UK:
“The aim is to phase out refrigerants such as R404A as their GWP is above the 2,500 threshold and phase down refrigerants such as R410A, 134a, R407C and R32 .
These refrigerants will now have to be measured by CO2- equivalent emissions against 2014 levels therefore make the use of lower GWP refrigerants such as R32 more attractive. Beyond the requirement to reduce the use of higher GWP gases, the revised regulation also reinforces the importance of preventing emissions through regular leak checks, improved installer training and qualification as well as appropriate end of life treatment.
More specifically, leak checks are subject to new thresholds expressed in tonnes of CO2-equivalent quantities rather than kilograms – for example 5 TCO2-eq instead of 2.4 kg in the case of R410A.
In practice, this means that the charge limit from which leak checks apply will depend on the GWP of the refrigerant used in the application. To aid the adequate phase-out and removal of higher GWP HFCs, and the transition to lower GWP-HFC and HFO refrigerants, RAC systems need to be installed and serviced by certified professionals. This will make specialised training all the more important in the future.
However, verifying the certification of service engineers or installers is not only down to the equipment operator under the new law, it is within the responsibility of any person or company assigning a task to another person or company. This broader responsibility will impact building managers and installers alike, insofar as they must ensure that relevant on-site staff and contractors are F-Gas trained and registered to undertake operation and maintenance tasks. Likely to be provided by manufacturers, such training will cover updates on regulations, standards, emission prevention, recovery, safe handling and alternative technologies.
To reduce F-Gas use and facilitate the transition to lower GWP HFC refrigerant over time, certified persons must also keep accurate logbooks about the type, origin and quantity of F-Gas installed, its disposal as well as equipment decommissioning. This information has to be kept for a minimum of five years. Similarly, the end-user will be required to provide evidence that the installation of non-hermetically sealed, pre-charged equipment will be installed by a certified undertaking or else the equipment may not be sold to them.”
The changes brought about by the new F-Gas regulations in 2015 will no doubt put pressure on businesses with heavy reliance on climate control and refrigeration. It will involve a lot of work on their part to make sure equipment that needs replacing is replaced in due course.
It is also an opportunity for companies to make a positive switch to greener technology to reduce carbon emissions and operate more efficiency.
Businesses will need to be prepared and installers need to be on hand, working with the manufacturers to offer advice on how they can best meet the new legal and environmental obligations.
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