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Industry consensus emerges as threats to F-Gas are highlighted

The president elect of the HVCA has described the threat to the use of HFCs as one of the biggest challenges facing the air conditioning and refrigeration industry. By Andrew Gaved and Ben Hall

Graham Manly made his comment at the AGM of the HVCA’s RAC group and praised group members for taking a lead on the issue alongside the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration European Association (AREA)

He said: “We must combat this ridiculous proposal to outlaw HFCs as there is nothing more inappropriate. If something like this became popular I fear for commonsense. We have succeeded in turning things around before and let us hope this can happen again.”

Mr Manly made his comments in the wake of a summit meeting between representatives from key sector organisations – including HVCA, Acrib and the Institute of Refrigeration – organised following the launch of the F-Gas Works campaign by H&V News sister magazine RAC.

Graeme Fox, one of the leading figures within the campaign and one of the RAC group’s HVCA Council members, was delighted with the feedback from the meeting with a series of next steps agreed including talks with the Carbon Trust.

He said: “It was a very positive meeting and it is clear we have cross industry support and wide consensus in support of the campaign to protect the use of HFCs due to the high efficiencies they can achieve in certain applications.”

The F-Gas Works campaign was launched due to fears the European Commission is set to potentially ban the use of HFCs. Many within the industry argues HFC refrigerants remain the most energy efficient and suitable product in many applications and the industry is making progress on controlling leaks.

They argue an early phase-out would cause damaging upheaval just as a new training regime for F-Gas is just starting to be introduced and leak levels are set to reduce.

The campaign is trying co-ordinate efforts to respond effectively to claims by environment groups that a clear phase out timetable is needed to encourage investment in new solutions.

Industry bodies at the F-Gas Works meeting agreed engineering standards need to be raised to prove everything is being done to contain leaks.

One delegate said:  “We need to convince them [the Government] that a ban is not necessary as we are on top of the leakage issue.”

Standards were key to another delegate, They said: “When you see some of the standard of workmanship, often from non refrigeration sub contractors, it is not surprising that leakage is high.”

Another added that HFCs would be essential when it comes to R22 phase-out, since all the alternatives require new equipment and systems to be installed, whereas HFCs can be retrofitted into existing systems.

Delegates felt that the individual registration of properly qualified engineers through a card scheme was the only way to ensure the high standards were met. “The irony is that as an industry we want our engineers to be individually registered, but the government would not back our call to make it a legal requirement,” said one.

Next steps:

● RAC bodies will review the Dutch STEK scheme to see if it can be applied in the UK. Thanks to strong regulations and high standards, the STEK scheme has brought refrigerant leakage down to 1.5 per cent in the Netherlands

● Clear commitment to higher standards particularly on pipe jointing and brazing alongside the use of high-quality leak tight components

● Evidence to be put together on the relative efficiency of HFCs for small to medium sized air conditioning units

● Call for individual registration scheme to ensure high standards

● Highlight need for proper record keeping would reinforce the message at end user level, ensuring that leaks were more closely monitored and therefore kept at a minimum

● Wider issues to be highlighted to Government include the important role of HFCs in R22 phase out, implementation of building regulations and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

For more on the F-gas Campaign see www.cnplus.co.uk/building-services/rac/f-gas-works-campaign