Current price of more commonly used, higher GWP gas and the possible means of extending subsidies to support take up of alternative cooling systems among important topics of recent F-Gas regulation review
The third F-Gas Consultation Forum concluded this week with all EU member states reiterating a commitment to current quota reductions for higher GWP gas, despite some industry pressure to consider exceptions.
As part of the third review of how the EU F-Gas Regulation is faring, AREA vice president Marco Buoni said that concerns over the current hike in prices for refrigerant such as R410A and R404A had been discussed with stakeholders across the industry.
Despite some industry pressure from markets such as Germany for amendments to offset fears about the current high prices for commonly used higher GWP refrigerant, Mr Buoni said the commission has taken the view that it was vital to maintain current targets to push the market towards alternative gas.
He added, “No members states themselves asked for quota exceptions during the forum.”
Mr Buoni claimed that these targets were seen as being vital to encourage greater reliance on the recovery and recycling of refrigerant already on the market, as well as up take of lower GWP gas and technology.
The forum also considered what support there maybe to assist industry in switching to new equipment for alternative gas that would include mildly flammable R32 refrigerant. The issue could prove pertinent as manufacturers and installers currently facing ongoing spikes in the prices of R410A and R404A in the build up to and aftermath of the latest F-Gas quota reductions that came into effect on January 1.
One possible consideration could be in amending existing subsidy programmes employed by member states to encourage adoption of less carbon intensive and greener technologies to support switching to new cooling equipment that is not dependent on higher GWP gas.
Mr Buoni said that although the European Commission could not directly enforce such a change, it was possible to suggest or push for EU member states to look at expanding or introducing subsidies to support industry to curb reliance on specific types of refrigerant and equipment.
The latest forum event, the first to be held by the commission since December 2016, considered a number of aspects around the regulation of F-Gas with insight from industry representatives, EU member states and the European Commission.
These topics included the potential implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the possibility of separating a portion of the F-Gas quota for the country from the current system.
A briefing on the forum noted, “To prepare for this scenario a data collection exercise is currently being carried out by the European Commission to prepare for running the EU HFC quota system once the UK leaves the EU.”
“Reference values held by UK-based companies need to be adjusted to exclude quantities placed on the UK market. The data gathering exercise is therefore aimed at determining what the remaining EU27 market share amounts to.”
According to the briefing document, this amended reference value will be required to ensure UK-based companies can supply hydrofluorocarbons within the EU.
“This approach is consistent with that for companies from other non-EU countries which currently hold a reference value. The new reference values would permit the proper functioning of the EU HFC quota system and phase-down measure.”
The forum also saw Mr Buoni present progress of the ‘Real Alternatives 4 Life’ project that focuses on ensuring training of personnel to safely handle alternative refrigerants that are being developed as a result of the F-Gas phase down.