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F-gas: a blueprint for developing countries

Marco Buoni
Marco Buoni instructs during the practical exam with Rwandese technicians

BRUSSELS: Contractors’ association AREA is using its F-gas regulation knowledge and experience  to  advise emerging and developing economies with refrigerant handling and certification. 

AREA vice-president Marco Buoni has recently been involved in United Nations Environment Programme events in Suriname, Rwanda and Sri Lanka to explain and discuss the European F-gas regulations with particular reference to training and certification.

Earlier this month, Marco Buoni was invited to attend a UNEP workshop for the establishment and operation of certification schemes and regional and national refrigeration and air conditioning associations in Kigali, Rwanda.

In the one-day session, 14 technicians participated in the theoretical F-gas test. Two of the technicians failed this part of the assessment, scoring less than the 60% of correct answers required.

The 12 technicians who passed the initial theory test then participated in the practical exam, requiring them to be able to correctly undertake refrigerant recovery, vacuum, charge, leak detections, temperature and pressure evaluation.

According to Marco Buoni, the technicians, who were selected from the most skilled technicians across the African continent, were very well trained and demonstrated a high level of knowledge to prevent refrigerant emissions.

The practical session was held in the University Polytechnic IPRC in Kigali where a laboratory is completely dedicated to air conditioning and refrigeration. The equipment was reported to be of a high standard, with multiple examples of recovery machines, leak detectors, vacuum pumps and tools. The material was made available by UNEP.

The practical side was failed by only one technician who was unable to demonstrate to the assessor his ability to carry out the essential operation of recovery and vacuum of the system.

At the end of the three-day workshop (during which the Minister of the Environment and Energy of Rwanda was present) the candidates who were expert technicians from various countries in Africa, and the 28 Ozone Officers who attended from Anglophone African countries, have all expressed the desire to implement the European certification scheme and adapt it to their national requirements. They believe that training without certification is less effective.

During the last week of April, a video conference was held with Suriname for the Caribbean regional workshop. In that workshop, three speeches led to discussions about new F-gas regulation in Europe, certification and training schemes for handling refrigerants and the step-by-step creation and strengthening of National Associations.

At the end of May AREA was involved in a similar UNEP workshop held in Sri Lanka and targeting Asian countries.

AREA has also received further invitations to exchange knowledge with Arabic and Balkan countries about certification schemes for handling refrigerants in these regions.

Under AREA’s influence a number of recommendations were made as to training, certification and the formation of associations.

Countries which have not yet done so were advised to consider establishing and implementing national certification systems for refrigeration technicians that are able to address the needs for handling and the safe use of all types of refrigerants. Countries were also requested to ensure that training and certification programmes addressed low-GWP alternatives.

Countries were encouraged to establish or strengthen national refrigeration associations that are able to support and sustain the HCFC Phase out Management Plan.

Theoretical exam to obtain the EU certification for handling refrigerants
Theoretical exam to obtain the EU certification for handling refrigerants

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