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EU keeps within 2016 HFC phase down

DENMARK: Large increases in the use of lower GWP HFCs saw Europe stay 4% below the 170.3Mt CO2e F-gas phase down limit for 2016.

The latest figures revealed by the European Environment Agency show that HFC consumption in the EU was the lowest since reporting started in 2007.

While the tonnage production of F-gases in the EU actually went up by 2% last year compared to 2015, the increased use of lower GWP HFCs saw the overall warming effect actually decrease by 2% in CO2 equivalents (CO2e). Also, while imports of F-gases in 2016 increased by 5% compared to 2015, an 80% rise in lower GWP HFCs meant the rise was only 2% in CO2e. This was also influenced by a a 60 % rise in bulk imports of nitrogen trifluoride NF3, a gas used in the electronics industry, which has a huge GWP of 17,200.

The few cases of quota exceedance in 2016 were said to have been balanced by companies that did not fully use their quota. Total unused quota in 2016 was 7.6Mt CO2e (4.5% of the 2016 maximum quantity), while the sum of exceedances by companies was 1.3Mt CO2e (0.7 % of the 2016 maximum quantity).

Significantly, equipment importers apparently built up a reserve of quota authorisations for this year, 2017, when imports of pre-charged equipment first became subject to the phase down. The size of this reserve is said to be approximately twice the amount of actual annual equipment imports or 22% of the maximum available HFC amount for 2017. These can be used to cover equipment imports in 2017 and future years because acquired authorisations are not earmarked for a particular year. With the dreaded “cliff” approaching next year, when Europe faces a 37% cut, this accumulated reserve will reduce the overall strain on supply.

Reclamation of used F-gases is said to have doubled since 2015 but still only accounts for 5% (CO2e) of HFC production.

The EEA report Fluorinated greenhouse gases 2017, can be viewed and downloaded here.

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