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RAC fights for HFCs

The rac industry is rallying to defend its right to use HFCs after the European Commission indicated it wants to see a further a crackdown because of the refrigerants’ high Global Warming Potential.

The Commission said it wanted to see an ‘international emission reduction arrangement for HFCs’ in its Copenhagen Agreement on climate change at the end of the year. The EC believes that HFC emissions will grow significantly following the phase-out of HCFCs and wants to encourage the development of lower global warming alternatives.

But industry groups have reacted angrily to the news, coming just when Europe is getting to grips with the FGas regulations, designed specifically to improve containment of the HFCs.

The European rac industry body AREA challenged the move, saying it fails to take into account the concept of TEWI (Total Equivalent Warming Impact) of many HFCs in use. It also stressed that the EC has not factored in the impact of the recent F Gas regulations, both the positive effect of the new leak cutting measures and the cost begin borne by the industry in raising training standards.

AREA technical committee chairman Graeme Fox said; “In some ways we are fighting to educate the legislators, because when gases are contained, the GWP is irrelevant. We are asking contractors to pay £1500 per engineer for training for working with F Gas, so this sends out entirely the wrong message.”

UK rac industry representatives were due to meet government department Defra on March 2 to put the case for continued use of the refrigerant in Europe and  to call for a delay in the review of the F gas regulations, currently set for 2011.

Mr Fox said that delaying the review would give the UK time to show improved containment. “The situation has improved, but there is a lot more work to do. The UK is behind Europe on the standard of its engineering – on the continent there is more basic knowledge of refrigerant handling.”

But at the same time Defra Minister Philip Hunt has announced that the government will consider a ban on ‘non-essential use’ of HFCs in the F Gas review, if there are practical and safe alternatives. He said: “We are very worried about the leak level and we will do everything we can to encourage alternatives. Part of the review will also be to see whether current enforcement is enough.”

Defra will be talking about the legislative road ahead at RAC’s Alternative Cooling Conference in London on March 31. For more details see: www.alternativecooling.co.uk