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F-gas revision may need “balance” on heat pumps

EUROPE: The EU environmental committee rapporteur has urged industry to move to natural alternative refrigerants as quickly as possible but recognises that a “balance” may be required on heat pumps. 

Addressing this morning’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) committee meeting in Brussels, rapporteur Bas Eickhout said that industry had been too conservative in the past when faced with stricter phase downs but had proven that it could move faster when legislation dictated. 

He admitted that they needed to find the right balance between the move to natural alternatives and the need for the increased take up of heat pumps.

Eickhout’s recent draft response to the European Commission’s F-gas proposal document called for even stricter controls, including an outright ban on HFC and HFO refrigerants in most common uses and an even steeper phase down.

Industry has previously warned that the current F-gas revision proposals present an unrealistic timeline for phase out, risk equipment safety and efficiency, seriously impact the necessary accelerated heat pump roll out and jeopardise the EU’s REPowerEU objectives.

Too conservative

Eickhout, who acted as rapporteur the last time the F-gas regulations were revised, warned colleagues against industry lobbyists complaining that the legislation was moving too fast. 

“I can tell you they did exactly the same 10 years ago and it turned out that they were too conservative,” he said. “The legislation has proved that they moved faster than they thought they could. The development of natural alternatives really kicked off substantially and this legislation is also stimulating that.”

He admitted, however, that the biggest discussion would centre around heat pumps. I’ve learned a lot about heat pumps over the last couple of months. You know, split system, monobloc systems. You have them all and there are differences on safety, etc. So I think also there we need to distinguish that and indeed we will have to find the right balance in speeding up the switch to natural alternatives, but also at the same time, of course, thinking of REPowerEU where there is an expansion of heat pumps foreseen. I think finding that balance is going to be the challenge for all of us.” 

PFAS

In order to meet the phase down, he warned against the use of HFO refrigerants, at least some of which are being classified as PFAS and might be included within new REACH regulations.

“I just want to stress, the biggest concern I’m having is that if we are too lenient, they will go into intermediate solutions and these intermediate solutions are partly PFAs.”

Eickhout had earlier urged industry to learn from the history from the Montreal Protocol. “We went from CFCs that were damaging the ozone layer and move to F gases that have a global warming impact. Let’s now not move to chemicals that are having a polluting effect. Let’s skip that phase. And I think that also should be a very big concern for the sector. And that’s why I also propose that we try to go to natural alternatives as fast as possible and skip the phase of chemicals that probably the sector doesn’t want to get into.”

Further comments from this morning’s meeting to follow.

Related stories:

All-propane heat pumps by 2027 “impossible”30 October 2022
BELGIUM: European industry group EPEE has called for a realistic HFC phase down in order to meet EU plans to move away from fossil fuels. Read more…

Euro green seeks total ban on F-gases18 October 2022
EUROPE: The European Parliament’s environmental committee’s rapporteur has called for an outright ban on HFC and HFO refrigerants in most common uses and an even steeper phase down. Read more…

F-gas revision promises steeper phase down13 March 2022
EUROPE: Proposals to accelerate the phase down of refrigerants under the European F-gas regulations could see the current allowable quota slashed by around 50% in 2024. Read more…

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