The European F-Gas phase down is the biggest single challenge facing the RAC industry, but despite the widespread media attention and the availability of training courses, many thousands of businesses are still using equipment destined to become obsolete in the near future.
Complex acronyms and tech-jargon are contributing to slowing the phase down, with a substantial proportion of engineers turning to merchants and manufacturers for clarification on terminology.
As part of its comprehensive RAC Engineer’s Guide to F-Gas, Wolseley Climate Center, in partnership with A-Gas, has produced a jargon-busting guide to support engineers who are in the process of switching to lower GWP solutions. Here, Robert Franklin, Sales Director, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, for Wolseley, shares some of the key jargon-busting facts from the guide.
GWP, high GWP potential and lower GWP solutions are all phrases RAC engineers are expected to understand. But what does it really mean?
GWP stands for Global Warming Potential and is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere. It was specifically developed to allow comparison of the global warming impacts of different gases.
Why is this so important in the new regulation?
The new F-Gas EU regulation has set strict targets to lower the use of the most impactful fluorinated greenhouse gases, or F-gases. These gases have the highest levels of GWP and are therefore most damaging to the environment. They include the widely used R404A, which will be banned from use in commercial applications by 2020.
Another common gas, CO2 , by definition has a GWP of one regardless of the time period used, because it is the gas being used as the reference. CO2 remains in the climate system for a substantial period of time, causing increases in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 which will last thousands of years.
To drive the phase down of F-Gases, a quota system has been introduced to control sales of gases like R404A across the EU market. This quota system affects all HFC producers, importers and exporters, and is based on control of bulk Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) production and distribution. There are additional controls in place for the import of pre-charged products.
When the F-Gas legislation was announced in July 2014, many companies stockpiled the now regulated gas in order to keep prices low and avoid supply issues. This stockpiling sheltered the bottom of the supply chain from the change, because everything was seemingly ‘normal’ with no real price change or sense of urgency.
This is now no longer the case, and things are suddenly changing dramatically, with stockpiles dwindling and the cost of conventional gas choices like R404A sky-rocketing in the last six months.
In order to deliver a controlled phase down of HFC production, distribution and sale, all producers, importers and exporters of F-Gases were legally required, under the 2006 EU F-Gas Regulation, to report annual data for quantities of bulk HFCs.
This data was used to identify the average consumption of HFCs on the EU market during the years 2009 and 2012, which was calculated in terms of CO2 equivalent. This figure was called the baseline, and was to form the basis of a phased reduction of EU F-Gas consumption.
The baseline reduction plan started in 2015 and every few years, a percentage of the baseline consumption figure is cut, essentially capping the amount of F-Gases which can be produced, distributed and sold.
In 2015, the market was allowed to consume 100% of the baseline consumption amount, which was equivalent to the average consumption identified between 2009 and 2012. For 2016 and 2017 a reduction of 7% of the baseline was enforced, and for 2018 there will be a reduction of a further 44%, taking the industry closer to the overall reduction target.
Understanding the terminology used in the EU F-Gas regulation is vital if engineers are to protect their business growth and their customers’ assets and reputation over the next few years. There is more jargon-busting help in Wolseley Climate Center’s RAC Engineer’s Guide to F-Gas, including in-context definitions of terms like EPEE, Gapometer and GHG.
Download the guide here.