New F-gas Regulation from 2015
The new F-gas Regulation No 517/2014 was adopted by the Council of the European Union mid-April as final step on a long way of policy development. The new regulation was published on 20th May 2014 in the Official Journal of the European Union, enters into force on 9th June 2014 and will apply from 2015 onwards, replacing the older, ineffective version with new and ambitious measures:
- Limiting the total amount of the most important F-gases that can be sold in the EU from 2015 onwards and phasing them down in steps to one-fifth on today's values by 2030. This will be the main driver of the move towards more climate-friendly technologies;
- Banning the use of F-gases in many new types of equipment where less harmful alternatives are widely available, such as air-conditioning, commercial and industrial refrigeration or windows;
- Placing on the market bans on HFCs of certain products and equipmentBan on servicing and maintaining refrigeration equipment with HFCs with >2,500 Global Warming Potential (GWP) as of 2020 (the use of recycled and reclaimed gases will be allowed until 2030)
- Preventing F-gas emissions from existing equipment by requiring checks, proper servicing and recovery of the gases at the end of the equipment's life
HFC bans in new equipment
HFC bans will likely to have the most direct and immediate effect on speeding up the transition to climate friendly alternatives and innovative products. Bans on HFCs in new equipment include the following air-conditioning, commercial and industrial refrigeration sectors and buildings related products:
- Windows for domestic use that contain fluorinated greenhouse gases - as of 2007
- Non-refillable containers for HFCs for refrigeration, air-conditioning or heat-pump equipment - as of 2017
- Other windows that contain fluorinated greenhouse gases - as of 2008
- Movable room AC, hermetically sealed (GWP ≥ 150) - as of 2020
- Split AC containing < 3kg of HFCs (GWP ≥ 750) - as of 2025
- Refrigerators and freezers for commercial use, hermetically sealed - with GWP ≥ 2500 - as of 2020, with GWP ≥ 150 - as of 2022
- Stationary refrigeration equipment (expect that designed to cool below -50°C (GWP ≥ 2500) - as of 2020
- Multipack centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use with capacity ≥ 40kW with GWP ≥ 150 - as of 2022, except in the primary refrigerant circuit of cascade systems where f-gases with a GWP < 1500 may be used
The bans don’t apply to equipment which, during its life cycle, showed greater energy efficiency with lower CO2 emissions than those in HFC-free systems, by applying the eco-design requirements contained in Directive 2009/125/EC.
Leak checking regime extended
The containment measures based on regular leak checking have been extended and now cover also stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning, heat pumps, and fire protection systems. To reinforce the climate impact the frequency of leak checks will be based on global warming potential in CO2 equivalents rather than tonnes of F-gas. This will potentially bring more equipment into the leak checking regime which is designed to encourage a switch to lower GWP alternatives.
Market effects and new requirements for producers
The Regulation will affect endogen and global markets, in particular countries exporting to the EU. Through increased demand for climate-friendly technologies, the new Regulation creates new business opportunities and will accelerate innovation and economies of scale in producing such technologies, thus lowering their costs.
Companies will be allocated quotas that limit future sales of HFCs, as first step in preparing a phase-down of HFCs in the EU. To clarify the procedure to be followed by new entrants to become eligible to receive quota, the European Commission published a ‘Notice to producers and importers of HFCs and to new undertakings intending to place HFCs in bulk on the market in the European Union’ on May 21. The complete notice is available in all EU languages in the Official Journal of the EU.
The formal notice describes the process for registering with the new HFC Registry. This is required both for companies that have legally reported production or imports in the period 2009-2012 ('reporting companies') as well as for 'new entrants' to the market that have not done so.
Reporting companies will be given reference values based on their historic data. New entrants will have to declare their need for quota to the European Commission, which will allocate quotas on a pro rata basis until no more quotas are available. For reporting companies and new entrants alike, 1 July 2014 is the deadline for registration and 2015 quota applications, using the appropriate forms.
Further legislative steps
While the new Regulation repeals the original Regulation from 2006, the 10 implementing Regulations adopted under the original Regulation remain in force and continue to apply until new acts are adopted.
Currently the necessary new implementing acts are being prepared to render the Regulation properly applicable by January 2015. Official information can be obtained through the European Commission’s website: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/f-gas/index_en.htm