F Gas Regulations

The newly revised European F Gas Regulation was published in May 2014. ACRIB will be holding a conference on 11th November 2014 to review the detail of the changes.

The process of proposed amendments, discussion, consultation and reconcilliation to complete this review took over two years and ACRIB represented UK views to DEFRA and other European bodies to help make the regulation more effective and proportionate. These pages provide a history of the review progress and documentation, and share the UK industry responses as co-ordinated by ACRIB.

Useful websites with position statements and news updates to monitor progress:

European Commission F Gas pages http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/f-gas/legislation/documentation_en.htm

AREA (Association of European Refrigeration Contractors) http://www.area-eur.be/

ECLA (European Cold Storage and Logistics Association) http://www.ecsla.eu/

EPEE (European Partnership for Energy and the Environment) http://www.epeeglobal.org/refrigerants/f-gas-regulation/

EFTFC (European Flourocarbons Technical Committee) http://www.fluorocarbons.org/the-f-gas-legislation/review-of-the-regulation


Future use of R404A under F Gas Regulations - 1.12.2014                                 

The new F Gas Regulations which come into force on 1st January 2015 place restrictions on the use of certain HFC refrigerants in certain applications. R404A has a GWP of 3922 and is therefore in the group of refrigerants with a GWP >2500 which will be most affected by the new regulations. The key parts of the regulation that will have a major impact on the use of R404A are;

1/ phase down

2/ From 2020 new equipment bans

3/ From 2020 service and maintenance bans

4/ Until 2030 the use of reclaimed and recycled

5/ From 1st January 2015 Leak Detection requirements have changed

For more information and discusson of future availability of R404A download the full guidance note.

Final F Gas regulation published in Official Journal 20.5.2014

ACRIB representing UK refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump industry welcomes the publication this week of the new F Gas Regulation in the Official Journal on 20th May 2014 (web link http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2014.150.01.0195.01.ENG).

This means that the existing F Gas Regulation will be repealed; the new Regulation enters into force on the 9th June and begins to take effect from the 1st January 2015. This was followed by publication of The European Commission’s notice to producers and importers of HFCs and new entrants - one of the most critical elements of the new regulation in that it sets the rules for HFC quota allocations and managing the HFC Phase Down. The notice set application deadlines and describes the procedure that importers and producers, including the new entrants, have to follow in order to be eligible to receive quota from the Commission. The notice confirms that placing on the market of these substances needs to be accounted for in the quota system laid down in the Regulation. More information is available at  http://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/articles/news_2014052102_en.htm.

All this is the culmination of many years of intensive work collecting feedback from industry, submitting responses to the Commission consultations and liaising with UK Government representatives.  ACRIB are pleased to see that many of our recommendations were taken up and that elements of the new regulation will strengthen areas identified by UK industry as weak in the original regulation.

The phase down and limited bans for certain applications will provide certainty for the industry to move forward with choices for new systems, given the impending R22 phase out.  However, work will continue to clarify definitions and requirements and to increase awareness of the changes and updates will be posted regularly on this website.  Implementation acts will be announced and official guidance is expected in the coming months.  In response to demand from industry ACRIB will be holding a conference on 11th November in London to review these changes and provide a summary of guidance available.

 

F Gas Training 2015 Clarification - 29/8/2014                                                 

DEFRA and the Environment Agency have confirmed that existing individual F Gas Certificates issued in accordance with the 2006 F Gas Regulations remain valid under the new 2014 Regulation EC517/2014 (article 10 paragraph 7). This is a great relief for the 30,000 or so UK operatives who are already F Gas Qualified in the UK.

However those certificates only remain valid “in accordance with the conditions under which they were originally issued” which means that if your certificate has an expiry date, you will need to undertake a reassessment. Reassessments are now available for those holding expired CITB Certificates. For those holding City & Guilds 2079 (or relevant units within the 7189 or 6187 qualifications) no reassessment is necessary.

The UK, like all member states, has an obligation to ensure that any F Gas certificates issued in future cover the changes that have been introduced by the 2014 Regulations – such as the different leak checking requirements and knowledge of the phase down timetable and new specific bans - some of which come in from January 2015. Both the CITB and City & Guilds F Gas Certificates will be updated in line with the changes to the knowledge element of the assessment in the required timescale so that anyone new to the industry taking their F Gas Certificate is up to date.

There are still a number of uncertainties in the 2014 F Gas Regulation on which UK Government and industry is awaiting clarification on. For example the requirement for already F gas Certified individuals to have access to information regarding technologies to replace HFCS, and existing regulatory requirements for alternative refrigerants. There is also a clause in the new Regulations that says Member States have to make available training for anyone who wants to update their knowledge. The Commission is planning to carry out a review of existing legislation covering training for the safe-handling of alternative refrigerants and, if appropriate, submit a legislative proposal. The results of this review are expected in 2017.

The 2014 European F Gas Regulation 517/2014 is directly applicable in UK law. However UK legislation is needed to cover the compliance and enforcement measures. A draft of that legislation, which will repeal the previous UK F Gas Regulation, is due for consultation this autumn. The full text of the 2014 European F Gas Regulation is available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2014.150.01.0195.01.ENG

Further guidance on how the new F Gas changes will impact end users and contractors is being prepared by ACRIB and by European Contractors’ association AREA and will be available shortly. Check this website www.acrib.org.uk for updates and come to the ACRIB F Gas update conference on 11th November in London.

ACRIB is an umbrella organisation for the UK RACHP industry comprising trade associations and professional institutes: AMDEA, ARC, B&ES, BFFF, CIBSE, CRT, FETA, FSDF, IOR. It provides the ACRIB Skillcard scheme for the recognition of individual operative qualifications in working with the full range of refrigerants. For more information see www.acrib.org.uk

Guidance on CO2 equivalent for key refrigerants under the new F Gas Regulation - 2/6/2014

ACRIB has published this guide to GWP values under the 2014 F Gas Regulation. One of the requirements of the new regulation relates to leak check requirements which are based upon the GWP CO2 equivalent Tonnes (instead of quantity of refrigerant). This means that the threshold level for leak checking different refrigerants will vary dependent upon the GWP of the refrigerant that is used. Download the guidance for more information and a handy reference.

DEFRA announces new F Gas regulation agreement - 21/1/2014

Below is an update issued by UK Government (DEFRA) on 20.1.14 on progress towards a revised EU Regulation of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F gases) following publication of a draft proposal by the European Commission at the end of 2012.

Background  

Since 2006, an EU regulatory regime underpinned by UK Regulations has been in place to control fluorinated greenhouse gas (F gas) emissions as part of the EU’s commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The main focus is to minimise emissions of F gases from products and equipment, mainly through containment, leak reduction and repair and recovery of F gases using appropriately certified personnel and companies.

Following a comprehensive review of the existing EU F gas Regulation, the European Commission submitted a proposal to the European Council on 7 November 2012 for a new Regulation on F gases to replace the current F gas Regulation EC 842/2006. In addition to strengthening elements of the existing Regulation, the core new elements of the Commission’s proposal are a phase down in EU market availability of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the most widely used of the F gases, along with a limited number of specific product and equipment and use bans.

F Gas Training 2015 Clarification - 29/8/2014

F Gas Training & Certification for Individuals in 2015

DEFRA and the Environment Agency have confirmed that existing individual F Gas Certificates issued in accordance with the 2006 F Gas Regulations remain valid under the new 2014 Regulation EC517/2014 (article 10 paragraph 7). This is a great relief for the 30,000 or so UK operatives who are already F Gas Qualified in the UK.

However those certificates only remain valid “in accordance with the conditions under which they were originally issued” which means that if your certificate has an expiry date, you will need to undertake a reassessment. Reassessments are now available for those holding expired CITB Certificates. For those holding City & Guilds 2079 (or relevant units within the 7189 or 6187 qualifications) no reassessment is necessary.

The UK, like all member states, has an obligation to ensure that any F Gas certificates issued in future cover the changes that have been introduced by the 2014 Regulations – such as the different leak checking requirements and knowledge of the phase down timetable and new specific bans - some of which come in from January 2015. Both the CITB and City & Guilds F Gas Certificates will be updated in line with the changes to the knowledge element of the assessment in the required timescale so that anyone new to the industry taking their F Gas Certificate is up to date.

There are still a number of uncertainties in the 2014 F Gas Regulation on which UK Government and industry is awaiting clarification on. For example the requirement for already F gas Certified individuals to have access to information regarding technologies to replace HFCS, and existing regulatory requirements for alternative refrigerants. There is also a clause in the new Regulations that says Member States have to make available training for anyone who wants to update their knowledge. The Commission is planning to carry out a review of existing legislation covering training for the safe-handling of alternative refrigerants and, if appropriate, submit a legislative proposal. The results of this review are expected in 2017.

The 2014 European F Gas Regulation 517/2014 is directly applicable in UK law. However UK legislation is needed to cover the compliance and enforcement measures. A draft of that legislation, which will repeal the previous UK F Gas Regulation, is due for consultation this autumn. The full text of the 2014 European F Gas Regulation is available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2014.150.01.0195.01.ENG

Further guidance on how the new F Gas changes will impact end users and contractors is being prepared by ACRIB and by European Contractors’ association AREA and will be available shortly. Checkthis website www.acrib.org.uk for updates and come to the ACRIB F Gas update conference on 11th November in London.

ACRIB is an umbrella organisation for the UK RACHP industry comprising trade associations and professional institutes: AMDEA, ARC, B&ES, BFFF, CIBSE, CRT, FETA, FSDF, IOR. It provides the ACRIB Skillcard scheme for the recognition of individual operative qualifications in working with the full range of refrigerants. For more information see www.acrib.org.uk=

Produced by the ACRIB F Gas Implementation Group on behalf of the UK RACHP industry. ACRIB accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions. August 2014. acrib@acrib.org.uk

State of play

The Commission’s proposal has been extensively discussed throughout 2013, It has been subject to scrutiny by the European Council and European Parliament under the European Union’s ordinary legislative procedure. Scrutiny by the European Parliament has been led by its Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). Following extensive debate and discussion ENVI voted on 19 June 2013 to propose 87 amendments to the Commission’s proposal.

 Scrutiny by the European Council has taken place throughout 2013 in European Environment Council Working Parties. These considered proposals from EU Member States for amendment of the Commission’s proposal and subsequently the proposals for amendment put forward by ENVI. Following extensive discussion the Presidency of the European Council was given a mandate on 4 October 2013 to enter into informal discussions with the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission with a view to finding a compromise between the positions voted in ENVI and the position of the Council Working Parties that could lead to an agreement on a new EU F Gas Regulation at its first reading the earliest possible stage in the process, the proposal’s ‘first reading’.

Informal discussions commenced on 7 October. The objective of these discussions was to secure suitable compromise amendments to the Commission proposal that could be agreed by the Parliament and the Council at first reading.

Discussion took some time to complete because the Council and the EP were some way apart on a number of key issues. However, following significant compromise by the EP and some concessions by the Council, informal agreement was reached on 16 December on a number of amendments to the European Commission’s original proposal for a new F gas Regulation.

The amended Commission proposal strengthens the existing measures set out in the EC F gas Regulation (Regulation 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases) relating to the containment of F gases through recovery, leak reduction and repair, in addition to minimum training and certification requirements for companies and personnel working with equipment containing F gases.

 The most important new measure proposed is a phase down in the supply of HFCs to be managed by a freeze in supply in 2015 followed by a series of reduction steps commencing in 2016. The objective is by 2030 to have reached a level of supply of 21% of the annual average of the total quantity of HFCs produced.

The amended proposal also excludes certain critical uses from the scope of the HFC phase down, for example, in uses such as asthma metered dose inhalers and for military equipment.

An EU phase down would begin with a freeze in supply in 2015. Supply would be calculated as the annual average of the total quantity of HFCs produced and imported into the EU during the period from 2009 to 2012. The freeze would be followed by several reduction steps from 2016 and by 2030 European HFC supply would be 21% of 2015 levels.

Provision is made under the phase down for the free allocation of HFC quotas to individual companies based on their historic reported amounts of HFCs placed on the EU market during a the period 2009 - 2012. A significant portion (11%) of the total EU allowances would be available for new market entrants who have not imported or produced HFCs in the reference period.

Measures have also been included for tracking imports and exports of HFCs contained in refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment pre-filled with F gases at the time of manufacture. These replace the Commission’s original proposal to ban the pre-filling of such equipment with F gases.

The phase down will be supported by a number of product and equipment bans where it has been demonstrated that suitable alternatives already exist or will exist by the time the respective bans enter into force. Furthermore, there are provisions that prohibit the use of F gases with a global warming potential (GWP) of 2500 or more to service and maintain certain refrigeration equipment. However, the use of reclaimed and recycled F gases with a GWP above 2500 is allowed until 1 January 2030.

Finally, the proposal contains provisions allowing a comprehensive review of the effects of the new Regulation to be carried out no later than 31 December 2022. 

The amended Commission proposal is now expected to go forward to ENVI to vote on the outcome of the discussions and then to the EP for first reading and a formal vote. A positive vote with no further amendments would be followed by Council consideration and expected final approval and adoption of the new Regulation by Ministers.

 UK position

The UK Government supports in principle the further proportionate regulation of the use of F gases and the broad approach taken in the draft Regulation. We support a phase down in availability of HFCs, along with other elements that encourage and support the move towards more climate friendly alternatives to F gases where technically and economically feasible alternatives are available and where their use would result in lower overall greenhouse gas emissions. We believe that the Commission’s proposal as currently amended will fully support UK’s objectives, providing an ambitious, proportionate and achievable Regulation.

Next Steps

Dates and a timetable have yet to be agreed for making progress in 2014. However, we would hope that formal agreement and publication of a new EU Regulation would be complete before the end of June. European Commission Implementing Regulations would be also need to be negotiated in 2014 and the Regulation is at present expected to enter into force in January 2015.

Depending on progress through the European institutions, we intend to hold an open meeting in March/April this year to explain to interested stakeholders the key changes and their impacts, including how we will be working towards implementing these changes in the UK.

ACRIB says Energy efficiency should be the key criteria for the F Gas Review recommedations  - 18.6.13

The F-Gas debate continues at a European policy making level. Environmental Committee MEPs are presenting more complex technical amendments designed to make the proposed legislation “greener” and Presidency drafts are looking for effective solutions that can be implemented across European Member States.

ACRIB meanwhile continues to communicate the message that the UK refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump industry has made considerable achievements in reducing emissions related to F Gas refrigerants. Clearly UK industry is working to achieve containment of all refrigerants in use now and in the future to provide a choice of the most suitable refrigerant taking into account energy efficiency, safety, reliability, availability of technology and affordability. ACRIB continues to present this important message to policy makers and to emphasise the importance of our industry to the UK economy – Together, the nine trade associations and professional institutes who are members of ACRIB are estimated to represent around 50,000 jobs in over 15,000 businesses in the UK.

The members of the ACRIB F Gas Implementation group are technical volunteers drawn from FETA, IOR, B&ES, BFFF, FSDF, AMDEA, ARC, CRT or CIBSE. They are following developments closely and the reactions of European industry groups such as EPEE and AREA. A full UK F Gas Stakeholder meeting was held by DEFRA earlier this year at which ACRIB was well represented, but with various proposals and rumours circulating, more recently ACRIB held an informal meeting with DEFRA in June to establish the position of those negotiating on behalf of the UK and try to get a picture of the next steps.

An Irish Presidency redraft of the Regulation will be handed over the Lithuania Presidency in July this year, and around the same time MEPs are due to vote on their own proposed amendments. This continues to leave industry with uncertainty about the future - will there be more exhaustive bans? Will certain refrigerants no longer be available? What alternatives should be specified for those moving out of R22 now? Will HFC recycled refrigerant be available in future? Will pre-charged air conditioning equipment be banned? Will operatives need to be re-trained again?

There appear to remain three main issues, which are the subject of contention and debate in Europe:

- The ban on pre-charging of equipment. An alternate proposal has been put forward which is receiving a lot of interest. This recommends a quota allocation for importers or producers of pre-charged equipment instead, although the mechanism for allocating quotas is not clear. It is generating a lot of interest and support as it would help the Commission to monitor more precisely refrigerant use against the phase-down schedule. Whilst more information about this complex proposal is awaited, ACRIB have emphasised the need for a much stronger mechanism to control the sale of HFC refrigerant and equipment containing HFC refrigerant to uncertified companies or individuals, to ensure installation competence.

- The phase down start point and steps are still subject to debate as to which figures these should be based on and what they include. ACRIB continues to remind legislators that it is important that any phase down provide for a market for the reuse of recycled or recovered refrigerant and does not adversely affect markets which are forecast to grow considerably such as heat pumps or does not introduce barriers for those who need to change out R22.

- Some parties are calling for a ban on service and maintenance of all equipment containing HFCs from 2020. This is not acceptable, as there are many applications and sectors that are still reliant on HFC refrigerant from the point of view of safety, reliability, energy efficiency and availability of alternatives. Also it is important to prevent the premature obsolesence of existing equipment which is not yet nearing the end of its lifetime, and to allow for a timely, safe, efficient and affordable move to alternative solutions.

But there will be even more of the detailed technical aspects to be confirmed and reviewed as the Parliament and Commission work towards a final version of the Regulation over the next year. Comments, queries and suggestions already made by Member States are still subject to consideration and responses are still awaited. Nothing is expected to be finalised much before the end of this year - so it is all still to play for and messages about energy efficiency, enforcement and compliance must not be lost in the detailed negotiations.

 

Call to UK MEPs to support UK industry in crucial vote -10.6.13

Joint UK Industry Comments on the F Gas Review issued to Environment Committee UK MEPS 14th June 2013

The UK refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump industry has made considerable achievements in reducing emissions related to F Gas refrigerants. ACRIB policy is to achieve containment of all refrigerants in use now and in the future to provide a choice of the most suitable refrigerant taking into account energy efficiency, safety, reliability, availability of technology and affordability. In view of the Environment Committee’s vote in the European Parliament on 19th June on the proposals for the review of the F Gas Regulation, we call upon UK members of the European Parliament to support the UK industry position to:

1. Support an ambitious, yet achievable HFC phase-down schedule (Annex V):
• The phase-down needs to commence at the right level: The current baseline proposal does not take all emissions into account. In order to accommodate for refrigerant containment in pre-charged air conditioning equipment and HCFC refrigerant which is still in use and must be replaced under existing legislation, the base line should be increased by 20%.
• The phase-down needs to be ambitious, but realistic: Whilst UK industry supports a gradual phase-down of HFCs, these steps need to take into account the market realities of the complex and diverse sectors that currently use HFCs. This is crucial to ensure the continued use of innovative and energy-efficient technologies containing F gases, for which no alternative solutions are available today – for example heat pumps, renewable heat technologies which provide high efficiency heating for domestic and commercial buildings in line with UK Government policy.

2. Support an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective service and maintenance ban (art 11.3):
Postpone the entry into force of the service and maintenance ban to 2030:
• This measure will prevent the premature obsolesce of existing equipment which is not yet nearing the end of its lifetime, and will allow for a timely, safe, efficient and affordable move to alternative solutions.
• Increase the charge size threshold from 5 to 50 tonnes co2 equivalent, and exempt applications < -50 degrees C and systems that recently converted to comply with the ODS Regulation. The ban will still encompass over 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the stationary RACHP sector and will not place a disproportionate burden on SMEs, the refrigerated transport sector and on sectors where no alternatives to HFCs exist.
• Allow the use of recycled and reclaimed HFC refrigerant: this will ensure that the environmental impact of the higher GWP refrigerants is minimised by preventing emissions at the end of life of equipment and provide a realistic incentive for recovery and recycling.

3. Reject the ban on precharging in favour of mechanisms to prevent placing on the market of equipment for sale to uncertified installers (Articles 12, 8 and 9)
A ban is questionable: implications should this be adopted would be serious for manufacturers and potentially could have a negative impact on the environment. When decision makers consider alternative solutions they should ensure that existing requirements are strengthened and more stringently enforced to ensure that the installation, commissioning, servicing and maintenance of systems that contain or are designed to contain F Gases is only carried out by certified operatives employed by certified companies.

4. Reject additional placing on the market bans (Annex III)
Prescriptive bans or GWP values should be treated with extreme caution and need careful consideration and definition to avoid the potential to increase overall carbon dioxide emissions or restrict key growth markets such as heat pumps. Many of the proposed alternatives will have a negative impact on overall efficiency, safety and practicality. Whilst alternatives may exist in a limited range of applications such as supermarket refrigeration, alternatives to HFCs do NOT exist for many essential applications across a wide range of sectors, which need to meet minimum efficiency and safety standards and regulation (one example is heat pumps as previously stated). Industry needs more time to develop and prove alternative solutions.

5. Support a dual legal base:
Product requirements must be consistent across the entire EU market: Maintaining the current internal market legal base provides industry with the basis to plan for future investment and ensure compliance. It is essential that requirements for products are equal across the EU to enable the free movement of products.

Together the trade associations and professional institutes represent directly approx 50,000 jobs in over 15,000 businesses in larger organisations, SMEs and microbusinesses the UK and approximately 5,000 apprentices. The products and services provided represent many more employed in all food retailing, most industrial processing, all food manufacturing, building cooling, datacentres, climate control and transport cooling. Total market size and direct economic impact of UK industry is around £2.4 billion p.a. and the indirect market value of goods and services reliant on refrigeration is approaching £100 billion pa (Source: London South Bank University)

This common statement is agreed by ACRIB (the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board) representing key associations active in the refrigerated transport, stationary heating, cooling, and refrigeration and heat pump industries.

ACRIB explains its role and key messages from UK industry in the European F Gas Review  - 24.4.13

ACRIB remains at the centre of debates and discussions on the proposed revisions to the F Gas Regulations. Notably however ACRIB has not issued a definitive position statement on what its members feel should or should not be included in a new Regulation. Various position papers from trade associations, environmental pressure groups, manufacturers and end users have been considered seriously by the ACRIB F Gas Implementation Group, which represents UK trade associations and technical institutes. However contractors, installers, trainers, manufacturers and environmentalists often seem to have different views and technical interpretations of key aspects of the proposals. Added to this, there are now several versions of the revisions circulating including the European Commission DG Clima official proposals published in November last year; the Irish European Council Presidents redraft, and a list of 415 proposed amendments from the European Parliament Environmental Committee to a redraft circulated in March this year by the Rapporteur.

During the rest of this year, as the intensity of debate continues ACRIB will monitor closely all of these developments of behalf of all aspects of UK industry and maintain its liaison with DEFRA. As well as supporting the Environment Agency on interpretation and compliance matters related to the existing regulations. ACRIB representatives are regularly invited to sector focus meetings by DEFRA who rely on ongoing dialogue with industry, particularly when considering the feasibility and practical impact of proposals.

The main emphasis of the work of ACRIB is to take an overview of the regulation in context and providing discussion documents to raise questions about whether proposals accurately reflect practices in the industry; the range of technologies available; and are propose measures reasonably likely to achieve reductions in emissions.

In recent discussions with DEFRA - who represent the UK in the negotiating process at a European level - ACRIB has highlighted questions such as: 

DEFRA holds UK stakeholder consultation meeting - 1.2.2013 

Those with a commercial interest in the proposed revisions to the F Gas Regulation may have read last month’s ACRIB report on an SRACHP (Stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump) sector specific meeting hosted by DEFRA in December 2012. This meeting revealed that, in addition to concerns being expressed by industry regarding the revision proposals, published by the European Commission in November last year, it appeared that DEFRA also wished to challenge various aspects of the document.

Now there will an opportunity for broader base of feedback at an industry stakeholder engagement meeting to be held by DEFRA on the 4th March with an introduction by Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Resource Management, the Local Environment and Environmental Science, Lord de Mauley.

The meeting, which continues the welcomed policy of regular UK stakeholder meetings adopted for the original F Gas Regulation, promises a heated debate given conflicting views held by various stakeholders. Bound to be included in discussions will be:
- the additional training and certification measures
- placing on market bans
- control of use (including the controversial ban on the use of F Gases with a GWP greater than 2500 for servicing commercial refrigeration plant from 2020)
- the proposed ban on pre-charging of non-hermetic RACHP equipment
- the HFC phase down programme and in particular the impact for users of R404A

Mike Nankivell who has chaired the ACRIB F Gas Implementation Group which brings together technical experts from all of the relevant industry bodies FETA, IOR, B&ES, FSDF, BFFF, CIBSE, ARC and AMDEA commented, “more detail is emerging to enable further analysis of industry concerns. For example, it appears that, in the industrial refrigeration sector there will be difficulties identifying currently available alternatives for the effective banning of R404A to be practicable from 2020. There is increasing pressure throughout Europe for the Regulation to accommodate the use of recycled/reclaimed HFCs to incentivise recovery of refrigerant. As far as the UK is concerned, the pro’s and con’s of the proposed pre-charged equipment ban are still being debated. There are many who believe that the phase down programme is too steep and has the potential to negatively impact on the planned growth of renewable heat technologies such as air source heat pumps, if the availability of HFCs is prematurely restricted.”

ACRIB has been closely examining industry comments and the positions of other UK and European organisations and is planning to develop a formal document that reflects the impact on UK industry of the proposed F Gas revisions when its experts meet on 12th March.

Meanwhile at a European level, the Commission is continuing to hold meetings with member states to hear their concerns regarding the more controversial proposals. The Commission is expected to give a progress report on these consultations in June this year and legislation likely to follow towards the end of the year or early 2014.

 

ACRIB discusses new F Gas proposals with DEFRA - 28/1/2013
On the 21st December 2012, representatives of the ACRIB F Gas Implementation Group were invited to attend a meeting hosted by officials from the Global Atmosphere Division of DEFRA, who are responsible for advising on UK policy related to the review of the EU F Gas Regulations. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the implications of the European Commission’s proposals for revising the F Gas Regulation. Also at this refrigeration and air conditioning sector specific meeting were other specially invited parties from the refrigeration and air conditioning industry representing installers, manufacturers, retailers, refrigerant suppliers, recyclers and the transport sector.

Mike Nankivell, Chairman of the ACRIB group observed. “This was an extremely valuable meeting, which gave the industry an excellent opportunity to indicate which elements of the new proposals can be supported in principle, which will be challenging or cause for concern and which are less likely to have a realistic impact on emissions reduction.” Mike added, “It was particularly encouraging to note that DEFRA had prepared a discussion document highlighting their own concerns, which in several respects echoed issues raised by ACRIB and others. These questioned the basis of proposals regarding training and certification, placing on market bans, control of use – including the prohibition on servicing certain equipment using F Gases with higher GWP, the proposed ban on pre-charging of (non-hermetic) refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment and the assumptions behind HFC phase down.”


ACRIB is preparing a discussion document highlighting aspects of the proposed EU regulation which require further clarification.
The Commissions proposals continue to be discussed at the highest level in terms of policy and impact in the UK. Recently a Select Committee debate took place - see the transcription below for the Ministers view :  http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/this-weeks-public-bill-general-committee-debates/read/?date=2013-01-21&itemId=240

Why should you care about F Gases? - 21/1/2013
EPEE - the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment - has published a leaflet for under users on F Gases and environmental impact of refrigerants to raise public awareness amongst end users of the importance of the continued use of F Gases in the mix of refrigerants available to support everyday life.. You can download or circulate this from the link below:  http://www.epeeglobal.org/epeedocs/internet/docs/EPEE_-_fgas_-_Why_should_I_care_7160.pdf

Parliamentary committee considers impact of F Gas Review proposals - 14/12/2012
The European Scrutiny Committee, a select committee of the UK Parliament recently considered the potential impact of the EU proposed reviewed F Gas Regulations and has decided that this matter needs further consideration. The full report of the initial discussions is shown below:

(from http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmeuleg/86-xxii/86xxii04.htm)

Legal base Article 192(1) TFEU; co-decision; QMV
Document originated 7 November 2012
Deposited in Parliament 13 November 2012
Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Basis of consideration EM of 26 November 2012
Previous Committee Report None
Discussion in Council See para 2.10 below
Committee's assessment Politically important
Committee's decision For debate in European Committee A
Background

2.1 In order to limit the rise in global temperatures, the EU is looking in 2050 to reduce by 80-95% as compared with levels in 1990, its emissions of greenhouse gases, including fluorinated gases, which have been developed to replace the ozone-depleting substances being phased out under the Montreal Protocol, but which have a very high global warming potential (GWP).[6]

2.2 Those gases therefore form part of the basket controlled under the Kyoto Protocol, the most common type being hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used mainly in air-conditioning and commercial refrigeration systems, and to a lesser extent in aerosol sprays and as solvents, but which leak with use or over time, and so contribute to global warming. In particular, Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 seeks to minimise such emissions from products and equipment, mainly through containment, leak reduction and repair, and recovery of gases, and, in addition to placing obligations on various organisations, it requires Member States to establish minimum training and certification requirements for companies and personnel working with equipment containing fluorinated gases, as well as implementing certain other requirements.

2.3 In September 2011, a report by the Commission evaluated the effect of the current rules, and assessed the need for further action to reduce emissions of these gases in the EU. Given the short period of time in which Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 had been in operation, it concluded that the impact of its containment and recovery provisions could not yet be quantified, but that the use and marketing restrictions, and a parallel Directive (2006/40/EC) introducing restrictions on the use in mobile air conditioning of fluorinated gases having a global warming potential above a certain threshold, were already contributing to the achievement of the EU's targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The report also showed that, if effectively implemented in all Member States, these two measures have the potential to avoid almost half of projected emissions, stabilising emissions at current levels, but it added that mere stabilisation was not compatible with EU emission reduction targets, and suggested that available and emerging technologies offered significant scope for additional cost-effective reductions both within the EU and internationally.

2.4 It accordingly presented some potential policy options for consideration, including new voluntary agreements; bans on new equipment containing fluorinated gases; extending the scope of existing provisions to other systems/equipment; establishing minimum leakage rates for installations; developing EU standards and notes describing best available techniques and best environmental practices, and the introduction of a scheme for the phasing-down of HFCs. It said that the Commission was currently consulting on these options, and would assess their potential economic, social and environmental impacts, following which it would then, if appropriate, present a legislative proposal for revising the existing Regulation.

The current proposal

2.5 The Commission has now brought forward this draft Regulation, which would impose further controls to achieve a reduction in emissions of fluorinated gases, whilst also seeking to ensure better implementation and enforcement by national authorities of the current regulations. In particular, it proposes a phase-down of the supply of HFCs by imposing a freeze in 2015, followed by a series of reductions commencing in 2016, the objective being to have reached by 2030 a level of supply equivalent to 21% of the annual average of the total quantity of HFCs produced and imported into the EU during the period from 2008 to 2011.

2.6 The phase down would be supported by a number of bans on the use of HFCs imported in non-hermetically sealed pre-charged equipment; on the placing on the market of movable air conditioning containing HFCs from 2020; and on the use of fluorinated gases with a global warming potential (GWP) of 2500 or more to service and maintain certain refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. There would also be bans on the more specialist uses to restrict the use of other fluorinated gases not covered by the phase down mechanism, but the mechanism would not affect substances which have already been placed on the market, or prevent the continued use of HFC-based equipment which existed prior to the new Regulation coming into force: and there would be a de minimis threshold for importers and producers of low volumes of HFCs (ie. companies using less than 1,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent). Also, in order to monitor the effectiveness of the Regulation, the proposal would extend the scope of reporting obligations under the EU Regulations to cover other fluorinated substances having a significant GWP or likely to replace fluorinated gases already covered by the Regulations.

2.7 Finally, the proposal contains provisions allowing a comprehensive review to be carried out before 2030 to allow adaptation of the provisions of the Regulation in the light of implementation and of new developments.

The Government's view

2.8 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 26 November 2012, the Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord de Mauley) says that, given the range of fluorinated gases, equipment and applications, there is no "one size fits all" solution to regulation in this area; that policy measures must take into account the numerous types of product and equipment concerned; and that the technical feasibility and costs and benefits of replacing fluorinated gases depends on a wide range of factors. He adds that it will be important to ensure that measures are introduced only where they will result in lower overall greenhouse gas emissions, in particular from both the leakage of fluorinated gases and the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from their energy consumption, but that there is, nevertheless, potential in almost all sectors in which fluorinated gases are used to replace them fully or partially with alternatives which are safe and at least as energy-efficient.

2.9 The Minister suggests that, in the light of this, the reduction steps in the phase down of HFCs have been determined so as to respect expected market needs fully, taking into account the feasibility of replacements with proven, safe and energy efficient technologies already available today in all sectors. He believes that producers and end users of equipment facing a restricted supply of HFCs will switch to alternative technologies where this is feasible and cost effective, and that the de minimis threshold aligned with the reporting obligations in the EU fluorinated gas Regulation will avoid a disproportionate burden for importers and producers of low volumes of HFCs. However, he says that, in their current form, the control of use provisions in the proposals could create significant costs for some end users, and that small systems containing certain fluorinated gas refrigerants with a high GWP would need to have those replaced by lower GWP alternatives by 2020. It would be necessary, therefore, to be sure that alternative refrigerants could be retro-filled successfully in all cases if such an all-encompassing use control is to be applied: and, if existing plants have to be replaced, this would create significant costs for some end users, especially SMEs.

2.10 The Minister also notes that a ban on the pre-charging of refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment would take effect three years after the entry into force of a revised Regulation and that the potential implications of this are unclear. However, he points out that, whilst this may be needed to manage the HFC phase down effectively, it may introduce additional costs for end-users during installation, as well as related practical and safety issues, and that this will require careful consideration with stakeholders. In addition, he points out that, at an international level, existing proposals put forward under the Montreal Protocol to phase-down the production and consumption of HFCs have been under discussion since 2009, and that in 2010 the UK agreed "in principle" to support this because of the climate benefits it would bring. He says that this position has continued to inform discussions at subsequent Montreal Protocol meetings, where progress has been slow, but that, if agreed, an EU-level HFC phase-down could facilitate a potential agreement to such a phase-down at an international level.

2.11 The Minister also points out that the Commission's Impact Assessment considered the effectiveness of a wide range of policy measures, and their impact at different stages of production and use, concentrating on those which it felt had been shown to deliver substantial emission savings at low abatement costs and to be consistent with other EU policies. The Assessment showed that a phase-down of HFCs introducing gradually lower limits until 2030 for the amounts of these fluorinated gases to be put on the market in the EU would deliver the greatest emission savings (equivalent to two-thirds of current emissions by 2030, in line with current proposals under the Montreal Protocol), and that administrative costs can be kept relatively low: such an approach would also lead to cost reductions due to higher market penetration and to economies of scale for alternative technologies, thus helping to reach an agreement on the proposals under the Montreal Protocol.

2.12 He adds that the Government's own initial analysis suggests that, whilst the early step-down stages are quite steep, the later ones are less demanding, and that the proposed reduction steps are achievable. However, he says that this will rely on the development and introduction of low GWP alternatives which could be used as HFC replacements, particularly in parts of the stationary refrigeration and air-conditioning sector, and that it is important to recognise that there is currently rapid development of new alternatives with very low GWP. Some of these alternatives have been commercially available since 2010 and others are still in development but are expected to be available within one to three years. These new and emerging alternatives could have a major influence on the practicality and cost effectiveness of the phase-down schedule.

2.13 The Minister also refers to the likely timetable for this proposal. He says that it is expected to be a priority for the Irish Presidency, and to go to the Council for a first reading/common position in 2013, with the proposal entering into force on 1 January 2014.

Conclusion

2.14 The need to reduce emissions of fluorinated gases forms an important part of the EU's overall commitment to reduce levels of greenhouse gases, and, for that reason, this is clearly a significant proposal, which we are therefore drawing to the attention of the House. Moreover, whilst the Government suggests that the pace at which the supply of HFCs would be run down appears to respect expected market needs, it has drawn attention to a number of areas of concern. These include the potentially significant costs for some end-users, including small and medium-sized enterprises, arising from the control of use provisions; the need to clarify the implications of the proposed ban on pre-charging of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment; and the extent to which this might also introduce additional costs for end-users during installation and give rise to practical and safety issues.

2.15 In view of this, we believe that it would be helpful if the House were to have an opportunity at this stage to consider these issues further, and we are therefore recommending this proposal for debate in European Committee A.

Commission F Gas Proposals revealed - 7/11/2012
The European Commission issued a press release (7th November 2012) as below
" The European Commission took an important step today towards long-term climate objectives by presenting a proposal to significantly reduce emissions of fluorinated gases (F-gases). Emissions of F-gases, which have a warming effect up to 23,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, have risen by 60% since 1990, while all other greenhouse gases have been reduced. The proposed Regulation aims to reduce F-gas emissions by two-thirds of today's levels by 2030. It also bans the use of F-gases in some new equipment, such as household fridges, where viable more climate-friendly alternatives are readily available.

F-gases are commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning, as well as in electrical equipment, insulation foams, aerosol sprays and fire extinguishers. They leak into the atmosphere from production plants, from appliances they are used in, and when such appliances are thrown away.

Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, said: "I am proud to present this new initiative just when we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol. By limiting the amount of f-gases that can be sold in the EU, this new legislation will benefit the climate and create great business opportunities. Our existing legislation has successfully broken a growing trend in emissions and driven technological innovation. Now that more climate-friendly products can be made, we go one step further in reducing emissions from f-gases cost-effectively''

Today's proposal introduces a phase-down measure that from 2015 limits the total amount of the most significant group of F-gases - Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – that can be sold in the EU and reduces this in steps to one fifth of today's sales by 2030. This measure will build on the successful phasing out of ozone-depleting substances which was achieved in the EU 10 years ahead of the schedule agreed internationally. The EU supports global action on HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. The proposed
measure anticipates and facilitates agreement on a global phase-down of consumption and production of HFCs which is to be discussed at the 24th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol later this month. Also it reinforces the call at the climate change conference under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha later this month for urgent actions on HFCs from other countries to close the gap between the necessary emission reductions by 2020 and currently envisaged mitigation actions.

With the right legal framework in place, EU consumers and commercial users of equipment can drive the change and spur technological development in all sectors that use F-gases today. This will lead to increased market shares for those companies seizing the opportunity to develop climate-friendly products and equipment. Recent studies show that a number of alternatives exist that are technically sound, safe to use, cost-efficient and can lead to energy savings.

The proposal will replace the existing Regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases which requires companies to take a range of measures to reduce leaks from equipment containing F-gases and to recover the gases at the end of the equipment's lifetime. The current Regulation also established requirements on training and certification for personnel involved in servicing equipment, labelling of F-gas equipment, reporting on production, imports and exports of F-gases as well as some bans in a few specific areas. All of these requirements are maintained and/or strengthened in the new proposal.

Next steps
The proposal will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for discussion and adoption under the ordinary legislative procedure. Background
The European Commission's low-carbon roadmap lays out a cost-efficient way to achieve the necessary reduction in emissions required under a global effort to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. In order to achieve this objective, all sectors and greenhouse gases must contribute. The roadmap envisages a reduction of emissions of over 70% by 2030 for the industrial sector that includes F-gases. The new proposal has been designed to achieve these savings, representing a cost-efficient contribution from the F-gas sector to the overall economic effort needed to avoid more costly consequences of climate change in the future."

Further information
DG Climate Action, F-gas page: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/f-gas/index_en.htm
EEA monitoring report on F-gases: http://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/potent-greenhouse-gases
EEA greenhouse gas data viewer: http://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/pressroom/data-and-maps/data/data-viewers/greenhouse-gases-viewer
 

ACRIB commentary on F Gas Review - 14/12/2011
ACRIB has submitted this commentary as part of its response to the Commission Consultation on Effectiveness of the F Gas Regulations which closed on 19th December 2011.
"ACRIB encourages the Commission to focus future much needed policy measures on those which support the progress already achieved by industry in reducing emissions ie:
· Improve legislation, compliance and enforcement in all member states
· Acknowledge the evidence that demonstrates containment is working, and the Regulation needs only technical adjustment and inclusion of certain additional requirements to make further savings.
· Reassure businesses that they should continue to invest in compliance and containment. This consultation is sending out a message that an F Gas phase down is imminent and is therefore undermining actions taken to maximise compliance with the F Gas Regulation and achieve emissions reductions now.

The key policy options necessary to achieve this are:
1.The introduction of single national databases for verification of individual and company certificates.
2.That suppliers be responsible for ensuring that only appropriately certified companies are supplied.
3.An awareness campaign aimed at equipment operators covering enforcement in combination with a ‘non-compliant’ operator reporting service.
4.More active enforcement and increased policing of operators’ legal obligations under the Regulation to take place.
5.Member states to report to the Commission on compliance levels and to ensure more robust auditing of all company and individual certification authorities.

UK industry is concerned that in many member states a failure to introduce national legislation within the required timescales and low levels of enforcement where national regulations exist have undermined the potential of these Regulations to achieve greater reductions in emissions and is an affront to environmentally responsible companies and individuals that have invested in compliance.

The Commission needs to be more vigilant in ensuring full compliance by all member states. In addition, minor adjustments at national level on enforcement mechanisms would have a major impact on effectiveness ie restrictions on sale of F gas refrigerant or equipment designed to contain F gases and improved technical and training specifications to prevent leakage from new equipment and associated components.

Technical experts should be able to select the widest possible choice of refrigerants taking into account energy efficiency, safety, technical feasibility and containment issues. Legislation which forces the use of certain refrigerant options could compromise any of these criteria with serious consequences.

ACRIB responds on behalf of UK industryto the Commission Review of F Gas Regulations - 16/11/2011
ACRIB’s has prepared a draft response to the Commission with input from key trade associations and professional institutes to highlight the most effective policy measures based effectiveness in the UK to date. Before a final answer is delivered to the Commission ACRIB would appreciate comments from the wider industry – as well as giving you the opportunity to make your own comments direct to the commission, perhaps supporting some of the points that will be made by ACRIB. The full ACRIB comment is available now for you to read in detail and comment on by 1st December, but in summary the main points are as below:

ACRIB would like to encourage the Commission to focus future much needed policy measures on those which support the progress already achieved by industry in reducing emissions ie:

•Improve legislation, compliance and enforcement in all countries
•Acknowledge the evidence that demonstrates containment is working, and that regulations need only technical adjustment and inclusion of additional requirements to make further savings
•Reassure businesses that they should continue to invest in compliance and containment.
Download the full ACRIB draft response for comment

Go to the Commission F Gas Review and Consultation page

F Gas Review proposals and Consultation published by the Commission - 27/9/2011
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on strengthening EU measures to reduce emissions of fluorinated gases. The consultation runs until 19 December 2011 and is addressed to all interested stakeholders. A Commission review adopted on 26th September 2011 concludes that the EU's existing Regulation on fluorinated gases ('F-gases') is having a significant impact but that, without further measures, F-gas emissions are expected to remain at today's levels in the long term. The review suggests wide scope for further cost-effective emission reductions, mainly due to the growing feasibility of replacing F-gases in several sectors with alternatives that make less or no contribution to climate change. It finds that potentially the EU could eliminate up to two thirds of today's fluorinated gas emissions by 2030. The potential policy options being consulted on include new voluntary agreements, bans for new products and equipment and the introduction of a scheme for phasing-down the placing of HFCs on the EU market.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: "The EU Regulation on fluorinated gases has successfully broken a growing trend in emissions and driven technological innovation. However, making the transition to a competitive low-carbon EU economy by 2050 requires ambitious action to cut emissions from all sectors. It is clear there is considerable scope for cost-effective reductions in F-gas emissions and following the public consultation I intend to propose new legislative measures next year."
•Full details of the Consultation, the Commission Review and the Report are available at http://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/articles/news_2011092602_en.htm
•ACRIB will be preparing a UK RAC industry response to the Consultation and there will be opportunities to contribute to this position statement in the next few weeks.

 

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