F-Gas Regulation: What Does the 2024 EU Revision Mean?
In January 2024, the European Parliament approved the proposed revision to the F-Gas Regulation by a large majority. Subsequently passed by the European Council for implementation in 2025, the revision seeks a total phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 2050, and also plans to reduce the EU consumption quota between 2024-2049.
This includes a total ban on placing products and equipment containing HFCs on the market for small monobloc heat pumps and air conditioning (<12kW) from 2032 and split systems and heat pumps from 2035. Certain types of splits with higher GWP will have an earlier deadline. There is also an increased tonnes CO2 equivalents (TCO2e) HFC phasedown that will continue to reduce beyond 2030.
Although Great Britain is no longer bound by the EU F-Gas Regulation, the detail was transferred across into GB legislation in 2021. DEFRA has said that there will be no new F-Gas legislation here until 2025, and industry experts expect the EU review to have an influence on what the final GB regulation looks like.
For anyone working with refrigerants, an understanding of the F-Gas Regulation is important in order to take the action needed to comply, as well as future-proofing businesses and buildings. Whether for an existing system in need of an upgrade or a complete new installation, regulatory measures in place or upcoming developments mean the landscape for air conditioning, refrigeration and heat pumps is constantly changing.
We appreciate that negotiating this legislation can be a daunting prospect but we have been providing outstanding service to our customers since 1991 and that experience means we are here to help.
Q: What is the F-Gas Regulation and how does it affect me?
A: The F-Gas Regulation on the use of fluorinated gases (F-gases) was implemented by the European Parliament in 2015. Using a quota system, it aims to help address global warming and climate change. The effect of F-gases included in the phase-down are measured based on their Global Warming Potential (GWP), a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere in comparison to a similar mass of carbon dioxide.
Q: What should I do if my current systems operate on high GWP refrigerants or refrigerants that are obsolete?
A: Understanding the options available is crucial when it comes to considering the next steps for systems affected by the F-Gas phase-down. Does the system need replacing or can you use an alternative refrigerant?
Converting to a different refrigerant is often cheaper and minimises disruption. However, any decision should also factor in the amount of working life left in the system and the lifespan of the replacement refrigerant under the F-Gas Regulation.
R410A air conditioning systems with charges greater than 3kg – including most VRF applications – are not affected. Systems with less than 3kg charge will be banned from 2025, with equipment using R32 an alternative option.
New installations containing R404A were banned from January 2020 unless operating to produce storage temperatures of -50°C in stationary refrigeration equipment. Servicing is not due to be phased out until 2030. Alternative lower GWP refrigerants include R449A, R448A, R452A and A2Ls R454C and R455A.
New installations using R134a were banned from use in refrigeration from 2022, with R1234ze, R450A and R513A alternative options.
Q: I’ve heard about natural refrigerants – where and when can I use them?
A: Despite the name, natural refrigerants are manufactured, just like any other refrigerant. They are referred to as ‘natural’ because they are substances that occur naturally in nature and were widely used as refrigerants until the 1930s before fluorinated gases became more common. Natural refrigerants have little or no impact on global warming in comparison to the fluorinated gases commonly available.
With a GWP of 3, propane (R290) has been successfully used in industrial refrigeration for many years, as well as in domestic fridges and freezers. It is now commonly used in small air conditioning systems and is also becoming more popular in the domestic air-to-water heat pump market as an alternative to R410A and R32.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used in air-to-water heat pump systems and ultra-low, low and mid-temperature refrigeration. It is an alternative option to R404A, R134a and, with a GWP of less than 1, is used as the benchmark in terms of GWP when comparing refrigerants.
Q: Why must your contractor be F-Gas registered?
A: Under the F-Gas Regulation, anyone responsible for the installation, commissioning, decommissioning, maintenance and repair of stationary HVAC equipment containing fluorinated gases must hold a current F-Gas Certificate. Batchelor Air Conditioning & Refrigeration is proud to be certified by the UK’s leading F-Gas register, REFCOM, which was appointed as an official certification body by DEFRA in 2009.
Whatever shape the eventual Great Britain legislation takes, it will require a move to low or very low GWP options for new equipment at some point in the very near future. Batchelor Air Conditioning & Refrigeration can offer expert advice and support to help you and your customers make the right choice and, when replacing the refrigerant is not the best option, we have outstanding air conditioning, refrigeration and heat pump solutions from leading manufacturers.
Please get in touch if you have any further questions about the F-Gas Regulation.