Australia is planning a statutory phase down of HFC imports beginning in January 2018 and it is hoped that this will reduce HFC emissions by 85 per cent by 2036. The phase down is viewed as more ambitious than the proposals for global reductions being negotiated under the Montreal Protocol. It has a lower baseline – reflecting Australia’s current demand – and more frequent reduction steps.
As part of this the Australian Government is promising to reduce the regulatory burden by changing the licensing arrangements for HFCs, encourage businesses to reduce refrigerant leakage and look at ways of extending the life of equipment. The Australian market will be moving into quotas in the near future which will put it ahead of the timetable laid down by the Montreal Protocol.
Australian Low GWP Refrigerant Switch
It is in Australia’s favour that in this market there are already a sizeable number of CO2 installations in place. This trend followed the introduction of a carbon tax on HFCs in Australia – which drove up the price of refrigerants – and persuaded supermarkets that CO2 made a good alternative.
Small quantities of R22 are still used in Australia – although it is heavily regulated – with reclaimed gas filling the pipeline. Reductions in its use are planned year on year. In Europe and the UK Reclaimed R22 has been banned since January 2015. There is a raft of alternatives to R22 available in the UK, each designed to do a different job, but there are no doubt systems in the UK still running on R22 illegally.
This more holistic approach to refrigerant management will feature highly in the minds of end-users. The UK leads the way with a range of complimentary services available to end users such as easy recovery, environmentally-friendly disposal of waste and laboratory-led analysis to reclaim gases and return them to a high standard for re-use.
Leak Detection and Prevention
Spraying soapy water can no longer be viewed as a reliable way of detecting leaks. By using the latest leak detection products like Trace-A-Gas®, a five per cent hydrogen and 95 per cent nitrogen mixture from A-Gas, engineers are able to locate leaks and find evidence of former leaks quickly and efficiently.
America Needs to Catch Up
In Australia the phase down of HFCs is only just beginning, the mechanics are in place but in this part of the southern hemisphere the industry is still looking for more information on how it will all unfold. Perhaps it can learn from the experiences of others.
In the UK and Europe the introduction of low GWP refrigerants and blends, including HFOs some of which are mildly flammable, will make a key contribution to phasing out high GWP refrigerants. They have a short atmospheric life and contribute far less to global warming than more commonly used HFC blends.
Together with better equipment design, higher safety standards and improved training, these factors will keep UK and Europe ahead of the game in meeting the demands of the Montreal Protocol.