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F-Gas – prepare for impact

The industry gathered at ACRIB’s F-Gas conference in November, to hear speakers including the Environment Agency explain the latest on the regs. ACRIB chairman Mike Nankivell reports

The purpose of the ACRIB Conference, held on 11 November, was to provide clear and reliable information on the changes being introduced by the new F-Gas Regulation.

Many of the provisions of the new regulation come into force in the UK on 1 January 2015 and the 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.

In the opening address, I explained to delegates that, as marketing director of Daikin distributor Space Airconditioning, it is important that I have a good working knowledge of the impact that the new regulation is likely to have.

This applies immediately and in the longer term – as alternatives to or low-GWP HFCs or F-gases are developed for products this company markets in the UK.

The key message of the conference was to emphasise the importance, for the future of the UK industry, that we prepare now to ensure that the obligations under the new F-Gas Regulation are understood and implemented successfully.

This conference brought together an impressive range of speakers, not only to outline the main changes in the regulation but also to identify how the regulation will affect our industry.

More than 200 delegates gained valuable information to help their businesses and customers plan and adapt to changes that the new regulation involves – and they received a host of guidance documents to take away.

The next speaker was Chris Summers, senior technical officer for the Environment Agency, who provided a brief background to the regulation revisions and details of the legislative timetable, focusing on 2014 and 2015.

Mr Summers also outlined the key changes that affect cooling contractors, refrigerant producers, importers, exporter and wholesalers and their supply chains.

Importantly, he also spoke about the regulation enforcement procedures adopted by the Environment Agency, revealing that more than 200 warnings and a number of enforcement notices had been issued in relation to the original F-Gas regulation.

Looking at the regulation from a Europe-wide perspective, Andrea Voigt, director-general of industry association EPEE, spoke of the challenges and opportunities presented by the new regulation. The main challenges she identified were the phase-down programme; the quota allocation process; the bans based on GWP limits; and the viability of alternatives.

Alternative refrigerants

Mark Hughes of Dupont UK gave an insightful view of the impact of the F-Gas phase-down and examined the critical factors related to alternatives to higher-GWP refrigerants. Mark also presented a “crystal ball” outlook of the industry’s refrigerant choices between 2015 and 2030.

Graham Wright, president of supplier group HEVAC, explained the impact on the RACHP supply chain, starting with the equipment manufacturer.

He looked at the role of the manufacturer and its distribution channels in providing training and essential technical support for the installers and contractors, particularly where new, less familiar, refrigerants are applied and developed.

The morning session was brought to a close by Jane Gartshore of training specialist Cool Concerns, looking at where to find information on alternative refrigerants such as hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, HFOs and their blends.

The afternoon session featured talks from leading industry practitioners who specifically looked at the direct impact, challenges and opportunities that they considered the new F-Gas presented.

This included the transport sector (newly brought into the scope of the regulation); employers and certification; manufacturing, including industrial and large commercial; air conditioning and building services, including how F-Gas links with other built environment regulation and legislation; and the service and maintenance sector.

The conference ended with a Q&A session chaired by ACRIB chairman David Bostock and featuring a panel including, Christopher Summers, Andrea Voigt, Graham Wright, consultant Ray Gluckman and Graeme Fox of European contractors’ group AREA.

Delegates discussed subject including enforcement, purchase of refrigerant, the need for national registers of companies and individuals to aid compliance, the importance of energy efficiency and import/export and quotas.

Presentations are available on the ACRIB website (www.acrib.org.uk). Additional material, such as the updated F-Gas Support guidance currently being prepared, will be added in due course.

DEFRA has also indicated that it will be issuing a draft statutory instrument for consultation before the end of the year, which outlines the Environment Agency enforcement powers for the new requirements.

Mike Nankivell is chairman of the ACRIB F-Gas Implementation Group

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