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Supermarkets are key to HFC phase-down

Ray Gluckman: “Supermarkets across Europe must make a large contribution”

UK: A leading consultant has warned that meeting Europe’s HFC phase-down targets hinges on supermarkets across Europe adopting lower GWP refrigerants.

Speaking at today’s RAC Retail Question Time in London, Ray Gluckman, a consultant closely involved with the development and implementation of the EU F-gas Regulation, warned that not enough end users, maintenance or installation companies were taking the necessary action for the EU to achieve its targets.

He warned of the two forthcoming big cuts in HFC availability. With pre-charged equipment becoming part of the quota system in 2017, the cut in 2018 – the much-publicised “cliff” – is around 44%. This is followed by a 60% cut in 2021.

Not surprisingly, the commercial refrigeration sector, with its large reliance on the high GWP refrigerant R404A, is the largest sector. “In 2018 around half of what needs to be achieved needs to come from commercial refrigeration according to our modelling and assumptions,” Ray Gluckman warned. “We need an early switch from R404A particularly in commercial refrigeration. In the UK that is happening,” he said, but suggested that that was not the necessarily the case across Europe.

Working with EPEE on a roadmap to achieve the phase-down targets, three core actions associated with new equipment, existing equipment and reclaimed refrigerants have been identified. Each are seen as being equally important.

In new equipment it is seen as essential to adopt lower GWP refrigerants and for manufacturers to produce equipment requiring a smaller refrigerant charge and designed to ensure lower leakage. A rigorous leak prevention regime and the use of lower GWP retrofit gases is seen as essential areas to be addressed with existing equipment. Finally, the industry needs a vibrant and effective reclaim market.

“The early signs are that not enough end-users, maintenance and installation contractors are taking action,” said Ray Gluckman. “Bear in mind I’m not just talking about actions in the UK because the phase down is Europe-wide. The UK has no particular right to get gas if other countries are prepared to pay more for it. So we need these actions in every country and that is what worries me most.

“We need lots of retrofitting both in supermarket and the industrial refrigeration sector and still need more efforts to reduce leakage. Again what is going on in Europe and what going on the UK varies slightly and I think the UK is ahead of the game in both of those topics. But there is one or two countries in Europe I suspect are well behind on both leakage and retrofitting.”

Ray Gluckman admitted that he 2018 phase down cut looked particularly challenging but said it was achievable. “The study we have done shows it can be achieved but retail refrigeration is going to have to make a big contribution in a number of areas and that progress has to be across Europe,” he said.

Related stories:

Get out of R404A now! – October 14, 2014
GERMANY: F-gas phase-down experts have warned of the necessity to avoid using high GWP refrigerants now or the consequences for industry could be severe. Read more…

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