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Survey reveals lack of training on low GWP refrigerants

BELGIUM: While the European F-gas regulation is rapidly phasing out HFC refrigerants, only between 3.5% and 7% of F-gas certified personnel have received training on alternatives, a new report claims.

The European refrigeration and air conditioning contractors’ body AREA argues that such low figures, six years after the latest F-gas regulation (517/2014) entered into force, is “clear factual support” for AREA’s calls for mandatory certification on alternative refrigerants.

The figures come from a new survey amongst AREA member organisations looking at F-gas certification and training amongst the 344,692 F-gas certified refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump personnel in the 18 EU countries covered by AREA membership, 52,300 in the UK, 32,000 in Turkey and 4,804 in Norway.

Ammonia has the highest rate of training with 7%, closely followed by CO2 (6.9%). Hydrocarbons score 6.2% and 5.3%, depending whether the equipment is small or large. Finally, only 3.5% of F-gas certified personnel is trained on HFOs.

AREA and its member organisations, concerned at the lack of competently trained personnel, have long-maintained that the F-gas regulation should include mandatory training and certification on alternative refrigerants. In the current review of the F-gas regulation they have been joined by environmental groups who see a lack of training as a barrier to the uptake of low GWP technologies.

“The issue is widely acknowledged and considered as a major obstacle to a stronger market take-up of alternative refrigerant solutions,” AREA says in a statement announcing the report. “Whereas these alternative solutions are becoming available for an increasing number of applications, they need enough competent contractors to be certificated to work with them safely.”

AREA suggests “one simple solution” to the issue by extending the existing mandatory F-gas certification scheme to low GWP alternative refrigerants. “This would provide a sufficient number of contractors with the necessary level of competence to ensure safe, efficient and reliable handling of equipment working with low GWP refrigerants. To this end, AREA is now preparing concrete proposals, including minimum requirements,” it says.

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