Paul Starbuck
April 11, 2016
F-Gas Regulations: The New Cool Wears Green
F-Gas Regulations: The New Cool Wears Green

Most people will agree that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming. Sustainability… green designs…typical buzz words the public hears daily. But what about refrigeration systems? Not typical at all, unless of course you are a foodservice design consultant! Then, you are extremely aware of how refrigeration affects greenhouse gases. In fact, European refrigeration industry standards changed on January 1, 2015, creating implications for the design and specification of equipment throughout Europe.

I recently had the opportunity to chat about this subject with Garry Broadbent and the development team of Green Cooling Limited. What follows is a Q & A offering insight into the standards, the expectations and how these regulations will affect overall design of an operation.

Part 1: CO2 Refrigeration Systems

We know that you have worked with foodservice consultants and they have been successfully using CO2 systems both in the United Kingdom and abroad for quite some time. What benefits do their clients get?

CO2 refrigeration systems enable a specifier to provide a client with a ‘future proof’ refrigeration design with no risk of any costly modifications or replacement equipment/plant being required due to the F-Gas regulations.

However the benefits of CO2 as a refrigerant go further than providing a sustainable and environmentally focused design. Efficiency is also a key specification demand and CO2 also delivers in this area. When operating at either chilled or frozen temperatures, increased efficiency is provided by a CO2 system in comparison to conventional HFC refrigerants.

Additionally a CO2 refrigeration system is capable of delivering 125% of the rejected waste heat from refrigeration at high temperature (65C+). This means that a Food Service/HORECA refrigeration system is able to provide cooling and simultaneous hot water. Conventional HFC refrigerant-based systems are unable to provide this amount of rejected waste energy at high temperature.

Therefore, a CO2 refrigeration system is able to provide the benefits summarised below:

  • Low GWP refrigerant design
  • ‘Future proof’ F Gas regulation compliant system
  • Highly efficient operation
  • Flexible operational temperature range
  • Simultaneous refrigeration and hot water outputs
  • Potential to deliver significant energy cost savings
  • Low environmental impact assists with gaining planning approval

In summary a CO2 refrigeration system should not be viewed practically as being different to any other refrigeration system as the end result is the same (i.e., providing chilled or frozen storage to meet a client’s operational demand). However as can be seen above, there are factors that are driving change with the world of refrigeration:

  • Clients are now demanding equipment and plant that use less energy
  • 24/365 refrigeration plant is a high energy consumer
  • Increased efficiency is now a real specification consideration
  • Low GWP focused F Gas regulations are now being implemented
  • Refrigeration systems will be installed with low GWP refrigerants
  • Waste heat from refrigeration need not be ‘thrown away’
  • Recycled waste heat from CO2 systems can provide hot water at 65C+

 

Part 2: The New F-Gas Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014

Garry, remind us what changed within the European refrigeration industry standards in January 2015?

The revised F-Gas Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 was published in the Official EU Journal on the 16th April 2014. This repealed the original F-Gas Regulation (EC) 842/2006.

The revised Regulation came into effect on the 1st January 2015, and applies to all Member States of the EU without exception. Not all provisions of the revised Regulation were effective from that date and many requirements will be phased in over the course of a decade or more.

The aim of the agreed Regulation is to reduce F-Gas emissions by two-thirds of today’s levels (EU baseline average 2009/12) by 2030, and to encourage the use of viable and more climate-friendly alternatives where they are readily available. The regulation applies across all industrial and commercial applications and also the domestic sector. Additional legislative and regulatory information is available at the end of this article.

How does the regulation change impact on foodservice consultants?

The foodservice sector is clearly a significant user of refrigeration systems in terms of both integral and remote systems. Hence the correct specification of these refrigeration systems has a great bearing on the operational life of a project. We should bear in mind that over the next few years we will see a phase out of certain high GWP refrigerants and this phase out will happen during the operational life of equipment that is specified now.

So for the technically minded, Garry, what is an F-Gas, what is GWP?

The F-Gas regulations apply to fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) – i.e. hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexaflouride (SF6). Many refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump systems contain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are a type of fluorinated greenhouse gas (F-gas), which are proven to harm the ozone layer and create environmental damage. Companies that operate or service and maintain equipment containing F-gas must meet these revised F-Gas regulatory requirements.

Releases of HFCs do not cause damage at a local level; they do, however, have a global environmental effect, as greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Although their “global warming potential” (GWP) is high — 100-3000 times that of carbon dioxide. GWP is a key measure in relation to the specification and application of refrigeration plant and systems.

Garry, tell us about the timeline for these changes.

What follows is a chart spelling out when various types of equipment will be banned.

 

Effective Ban Date
 

1st January 2015

·         Domestic refrigerators and freezers that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more

 

1st January 2020

·         Refrigerators and freezers for commercial use (hermetically sealed systems) that contain HFCs with GWP of 2500 or more

·         Stationary refrigeration equipment that contains, or that relies upon for its functioning, HFCs with GWP of 2500 or more

 

1st January 2022

·         Refrigerators and freezers for commercial use (hermetically sealed systems) that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more

·         Multipack centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use with a capacity of 40kW or more that contain, or that rely upon for their functioning, primary fluorinated greenhouse gases with GWP of 150 or more

 

In addition, the following regulations apply:

  • From the 1st January 2015, operators of equipment that contains fluorinated greenhouse gases in quantities of 5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent or more and not contained in foams, shall ensure that the equipment is checked for leaks. This applies to operators of stationary refrigeration equipment, stationary air conditioning equipment, stationary heat pumps and refrigeration units.
  • The EU Commission shall allocate quotas for placing HFCs on the market for each producer and importer for each year beginning with the year 2015. This could have an impact on the maintenance and operation of installed refrigeration systems as the F-Gas regulations period progresses.

 

Finally Garry, give us a brief summary of what we and our clients should be considering today.

 From a specifier’s perspective, it is clear that the revised F-Gas regulations will impact on any equipment selected and installed within any Food Service/HORECA application from 2015 onward.

The key 2020/2021 phase out dates fall less than halfway through the operational life of equipment and plant specified in 2016.

Obviously all specified equipment is intended to operate over a 10 year + lifecycle. As such, refrigeration equipment selection must now consider the F-Gas regulations as the phase out and refrigerant changes apply over the next ten years (i.e., during the planned operational period for all specified refrigeration equipment).

For example, the widely used refrigerant R404 has a very high GWP of 3,800 and, as such, falls above the 2,500 limit. This tells us that consideration should be placed with regard to the longevity of a system design that includes high GWP refrigerants such as R404.

Users and operators of refrigeration systems should not have any surprises with regard to being forced to carry out costly future unplanned refrigeration system modifications.

Thanks Garry, your time and this message to our clients is greatly appreciated. For a transcript of the complete interview, with some very informative graphics, mail me at pstarbuck@cinilittle.com

 External links to the EU F-Gas legislation:

http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/f-gas/legislation/docs/fluorinated_greenhouse_gases_en.pdf

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=OJ:JOL_2014_150_R_0008

By:  Paul Starbuck

Senior Associate – London 

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