F Gas Legislation Changes

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The original F Gas Regulation was adopted by the European Union back in 2006. This legislative act, along with the MAC Directive, was created with the intention of controlling emissions from F gases, also known as fluorinated greenhouse gases.

The F Gas Regulation has two main aims: to improve the prevention of leaks from equipment containing F gases and to avoid the use of these gases if a more environmentally friendly alternative proves to be cost-effective. To achieve the first aim, a number of measures were listed, including the proper recovery of equipment, efficient and clear labelling of equipment containing F gases and the training and subsequent certification of any personnel who handle these gases.

Eight years after the original legislation was brought into being, a new F Gas Regulation has now been adopted, containing important changes which it is hoped will have far-reaching consequences. The new regulation will officially apply from the 1st January 2015.

Limitation

One of the main aims of the brand new legislation is to move towards the adoption of more environmentally friendly technologies. In the light of this, the total amount of F-gases which can be sold within the EU will be limited from the beginning of 2015, with a continued phasing down taking place each year. It is hoped that by 2030 the amount of F gases sold will be just 20% of the current market value.

F Gas Ban

In certain pieces of equipment, the use of F gases will be banned when a more environmentally friendly alternative is widely available. Equipment which falls under the auspices of this new ruling will include air-conditioning units, foams, aerosols and fridges used in both domestic and commercial situations such as supermarkets.

Emission Prevention

Existing equipment containing F gases is going to be subject to regular checks, proper servicing and the recovery of gases when the equipment has come to the end of its life.

These new measures will hopefully build upon the European Union’s successful push to phase out ozone-depleting substances, something which was achieved a full ten years ahead of the international schedule. The EU’s plan to cut F gas emissions by two-thirds by the year 2030 is undoubtedly ambitious but eminently achievable. Environmentally friendly alternatives to F gases are already widely available and the application of these alternatives in equipment such as air-conditioning systems and refrigeration units should be relatively low-cost. This will also give clarity to those within the air-conditioning industry as to the way forward, as the choices for new systems will become more streamlined and therefore definitive.

Representing the UK, DEFRA have been working closely with the European Union in order to properly clarify a number of interpretations and definitions which have been included in the new F Gas Regulation, as many of the changes are quite subtle. The original Regulation will remain in force until the new F Gas Regulation officially comes into effect on 1st January 2015.

by Louise Burke