General legislative framework

During the period 2008-2012, the European Union was committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 8% compared to the base year 1990. To reduce the emission of these F-gases, the Regulation (EC) No8422/2006 on F-gas Regulation was adopted on 17 May 2006.

The main aim of this regulation was to reduce emissions through:

  • Better containment of F-Gases in their applications;

  • Recovery of F-Gases from products and equipment reaching their end of life;

  • Training and certification of technical personnel and companies working with F-Gases;

  • Reporting of production, import and export data within the EU;

  • Labelling of certain products and equipment containing those gases;

  • Prohibition of placing on the market some products containing F-Gases and the control of use in some specific applications.

REHVA was mainly following:

REHVA was mainly following:

Containment (Article 3 of the F-gas Regulation 2006)

This article covered refrigeration, air-conditioning (including heat pumps, etc.) and fire protection units. All persons responsible for emissions were required to take all measures that are technically and economically feasible to prevent and minimize leakages. Standard leakage checking requirements for stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment containing certain fluorinated greenhouse gases can be found in commission Regulation (EC) No 1516/2007.

Labelling (Article 7 of the F-gas Regulation 2006)

Since 1 April 2008, a manufacturer or importer who places F-Gas-based solvent containers on the EU market is obliged to label them. The label is an important source of information to find out if the equipment is covered by the F-Gas Regulation and which requirements apply. Specific requirements for Member States may entail labelling in a Member State’s language. The label must contain at least the type and quantity of the F-Gas in the container and the sentence: “Contains fluorinated greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol”.

This include refrigeration and air-conditioning products and equipment (other than those fitted to vehicles), heat pumps, fire protection systems and containers. The form of labels and additional labelling requirements as regards products and equipment are established in commission Regulation (EC) No 1494/2007.

Training and certification (Article 5 of the F-gas Regulation 2006)

Member States has established certification and training programmes for personnel involved in leakage inspections and the recovery, recycling, reclamation and destruction of fluorinated gases. These programmes must comply with the minimum requirements and conditions laid down by the Commission.

New F-gas Regulation from 2015

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 in 2015 as a final step on a long way of policy development. It is estimated that by 2030 it will cut the EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds compared with 2014 levels.

The new regulation was published on 20th May 2014 in the Official Journal of the European Union, entered into force on 9th June 2014 and applied from 2015 onwards, replacing the older, ineffective version with new and ambitious measures:

1. 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;

2. 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;

3. Placing on the market bans on HFCs of certain products and equipment Ban 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);

4. 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 and 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.

On 15th October 2016, the 28th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer adopted Kigali Amendment to add HFCs to the list of controlled substances. It is foreseen that this action could save around 80 gigatonnes CO2 equivalents until 2050. The first reduction step to be taken by the EU countries and other countries is required in 2019; the EU ratified the Kigali Amendment on 27 of September 2018.

Leak checking regime extended

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

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.

Future steps in the legislation

Future steps in the legislation

  1. Guidance documents summarising the obligations under the F-gas Regulation (EU) 517/2014;

  2. Information for companies on reporting on F-gases;

  3. Climate friendly alternatives to HFCs and HCFCs

Those alternatives are available for many of the products and equipment in which F-gases are commonly used, this ambitious reduction is achievable at relatively low cost. It also offers opportunities of driving innovation in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector.

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