The European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gas) on May 17, 2006. The objective of the regulation is to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
HFCs are the primary refrigerants in air conditioning, heat pumps, and commercial refrigeration products. While HFCs have zero ozone depleting substances (ODS), they still have a high global warming potential (GWP), thus leading to this Regulation. The Regulation helps the EU and the Member States to meet their objectives though:
- better containment and recovery;
- training and certification of personnel involved;
- reporting of production, import and export data;
- labeling of certain products and equipment containing those gases;
- and for some applications and uses where containment and recovery is impracticable, the prohibition of marketing and use respectively.
The F-Gas Regulation went into effect on July 4, 2007. After that date, equipment manufacturers need to ensure that any of their staff involved in operations that could affect the emissions of HFCs are properly qualified (e.g. technicians filling new equipment with refrigerant). Additionally, any equipment sold with HFC or PFC refrigerants must be properly labeled, showing the type and quantity of refrigerant in the system. Hermetically sealed systems must be labeled as such. Manufacturers also need to ensure that if any refrigerant needs to be removed from a system in the factory that it is properly recovered (venting HFCs to atmosphere is illegal).
In more general terms, the Directive implies that manufacturers have an unwritten obligation to try and help their customers by providing equipment and information that will allow end users meet their legal obligations. End users will need to take steps to minimize leakage and to carry out leak tests. Manufacturers can influence this process through improvements to design. For example, designs can be improved to:
- Reduce the risk of leakage
- Reduce the refrigerant charge
- Simplify leak testing (e.g. by reducing the number of joints)
The European Commission has introduced a number of implementation regulations in order to execute the F-Gas Regulation. These regulations clarify some of the Articles in the F-Gas Regulation and solve conflicting Regulation and Directive laws. They can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/fluor/actions_en.htm
Five Year Revision
The Regulation calls for a publication of a report based on the experience of the implementation of the application of the Regulation by July 4, 2011, after which the Commission plans to issue a proposal for the review of the Regulation.
The Commission is in the review process and the revised Regulation will likely be released in 2013.
The F-Gas Regulation has strong implications for the HVACR industry, and will continue to be closely monitored. European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) is actively managing the Regulation and has an F-Gas Working Group. EPEE can be reached through its website at www.epeeglobal.org
or by contacting the EPEE Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the F-Gas Regulation, click on the following link:
Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:161:0001:0011:EN:PDF