These are crucial times for the cooling industry. You have probably read that line before, and indeed I have probably written it before.
But from where I stand it looks like a number of strands of the industry’s many diverse sectors appear to be aligning in a way to make things very interesting.
Get the strategy right as a cooling supplier and these coming months could offer some real potential for increased business. Equally get the strategy wrong as an end user, and it could make things pretty tricky.
Here’s my theory. To my left, we have the phase-out of R22.
And a whole bunch of customers on the high street and on industrial estates who have AC and refrigeration systems whirring away still completely without a care – or unaware – that this is the last-chance saloon, as the gas is prohibited from the end of the year.
Of course, the scale of the business opportunity does depend on that ‘prohibited’ part being enforced, but that’s another editorial altogether.
As you will read on p27 of RAC April, there are people who think that the limited amount of time left should serve cooling contractors well, provided you are smart in getting the message out.
But equally, if you are an end user with R22 in your system, you need to plan well, or there could easily be bottlenecks for getting the work down, as suppliers think about winding down stocks.
And supply and demand is highly likely to see prices increase as the phase-out approaches – as US R22 customers are finding out.
There will also undoubtedly be opportunities as the mists clear around the F-Gas Regulation (p5 April RAC), as the clarity will enable big customers to plan their routes out of high-GWP gas.
Already there are clear signs of new strategies – not least Daikin UK’s introduction of R32 from next year – and customers will no doubt be drawing up conversion plans, now that the die is virtually cast on the new regulations.
All this, inevitably creates plenty of questions, as well as potential for change, so we are pleased that panellists are already committing to provide their input at our F-Gas Question Time on 21 May (p15 RAC April).
We are aiming to address not just the refrigerant options in the light of the new rules, but also the issues with regulations, flammables, training and the like – and to throw in post-R22 debate for good measure.
And it’s absolutely free to attend, so if you have questions, you know what to do.
And finally, perhaps the biggest opportunity of all – as you read this we will be embarking on our second annual Data Centre Cooling Question Time.
The exponential growth in demand and the phenomenal rate of technology change make this an enormous challenge for the cooling industry (see the report on page 9 of RAC April), and one in which there are still many ways to make an influence.
The fascinating thing is that the cooling technology route map is by no means clear-cut, but one thing is clear – much more cooling will be required. I will report back next month.