How can politicians contemplate banning a range of gases that are part of a solution and not a problem, asks industry
Industry leaders have called on national and European governments to urgently reconsider their ‘ridiculous’ plans to ban HFCs, when it remains an efficient refrigerant and an essential part of the rac armoury.
The call comes amidst growing alarm at proposals to bring in stricter controls on HFCs, at a time when the industry believes it is starting to make headway on reducing leaks.
Many believe that an early phase-out would cause huge upheaval, at a point when the new training regime for F-Gas is only just starting to be introduced to 30,000 engineers and when the leak reduction goals of the legislation have yet to be proven.
The mounting threat was laid out in dramatic fashion at RAC’s Alternative Cooling Conference last month by Graeme Fox of European contractors’ association AREA: “It is ridiculous of the European Commissioners and many of our UK politicians to contemplate banning a range of gases that any serious engineer sees as part of the solution, not the problem.”
Mr Fox showed figures from Japanese air conditioning manufacturers that proved HFCs are the most efficient for medium to high temperature, medium duty ac systems. “It is clearly the best choice in terms of energy consumed. It is also therefore clearly the best choice for the environment as the emissions will be far less in providing the power for this plant than they would be if HFCs were banned and an alternative had to be provided.”
“It makes no sense to talk about banning gases that are actively helping to reduce our carbon mark on the world, especially at this time when we are faced with the additional costs of implementation of the F-Gas Regulation. The F-Gas Regulation will have an enormous effect on leakage rates in our industry, providing the government gives industry the teeth to implement and police the regulation properly.”
Mr Fox addressed the calls from environmental groups for the industry to move more quickly to natural refrigerants. He said: “I absolutely agree that in some cases, carbon dioxide is the best refrigerant of choice. And in some cases, ammonia or hydrocarbons maybe the best choice, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution here. There is simply no such thing as one refrigerant being the answer in all applications.”
But even in the face of this evidence, policy makers are pressing ahead with plans to restrict the gas. Mr Fox said that this thinking was based on the GWP of HFCs, which was a wrong assumption, since the potential is only realised if the gas is released to atmosphere, and that the whole point of F-Gas was improving containment.
“What I would say to those who seek to legislate against HFCs is that there are many technical reasons why your preferred gases are not suitable for certain applications. You should listen to what the industry is telling you, and stop taking advice from lobbying bodies who have hidden agendas. We cannot allow a sweeping broad ban on all HFCs, but merely need better control over how, when and where these gases are used.”
In the wake of this strength of feeling in the industry, RAC is this month launching an industry-wide campaign in a bid to raise awareness of the threats to the rac sector.
F-Gas Works is aiming to galvanise industry opinion, both demonstrating the importance of the gas to the sector, and of the importance of giving the F-Gas legislation time to prove its worth.