EXCLUSIVE: France sees natrefs delivering HFC phase-down targets

By Andrew Williams, Dec 08, 2016, 12:06 3 minute reading

France sees natural refrigerants as market-ready alternatives to HFCs, according an energy ministry official.

Photo credit: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Natural refrigerants CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbons are market-ready alternatives to HFCs, Florian Veyssilier, a policy advisor in the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, told Accelerate Europe magazine.

“Natural refrigerants will play a key role in delivering Europe’s HFC phase-down targets. Indeed, there are natural refrigerant-based solutions available on the market for every application in the HVAC and refrigeration sectors,” Veyssilier said.

In Rwandan capital Kigali in the early hours of 15 October, the world clinched an historic deal to limit the production and use of HFCs. The Kigali amendment – which is legally binding for all 197 Parties to the Montreal Protocol – sees developed countries take the lead on phasing down these potent greenhouse gases, starting with a 10% reduction in 2019 and delivering an 85% cut in 2036 (compared to the 2011-2013 baseline).

“The [Kigali] amendment will avoid the vast majority of HFC consumption by 2050 and 2100 of the ‘business as usual’ scenario we were following until now. Especially in countries that are expected to consume the most HFC gases in the future but which don’t have specific legislation today to limit consumption of these gases on their territories,” Veyssilier said.

HFCs: ‘A substance to give up’

“The amendment gives a clear signal to companies and government that HFCs will no longer be a promising market but rather a substance to give up. Investment in innovations will be more focused on alternative gases. This will reduce their cost,” Veyssilier argued.

The ministry official urges the European Union to support natural refrigerants more openly.

“It’s important for HFC users to have a large choice of reliable alternatives to HFCs. Most natural refrigerants are gases with a long industrial history, with reliable sourcing capacities. There are a large number of suppliers, which makes them safe options for decisions on the market,” he argued.

“This is why it’s important that the EU facilitates their development as alternatives,” he added.

The [Kigali] amendment gives a clear signal to companies and government that HFCs will no longer be a promising market but rather a substance to give up."
- Florian Veyssilier, French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy

In the EU, natural refrigerants like CO2, hydrocarbons and ammonia will have a key role to play in the context of the HFC phase-down taking place under the bloc’s F-Gas Regulation, which entered into force in 2015 and aims to reduce Europe’s HFC use by 79% by 2030. To help deliver this target, it is progressively banning the use of certain HFCs in different types of new equipment. In 2022, for example, bans on using certain HFCs (GWP ≥ 150) in new centralised and plug-in commercial refrigeration equipment will come into effect. 

Veyssilier is convinced that the EU F-Gas Regulation remains the best vehicle for delivering the phase-down in Europe. “[Even] after Kigali, it remains the most ambitious legislative tool in the world,” he said.

“The highest priority is to make it work, to enforce it, and to bring companies playing bad out of the market,” he argued.

Asked whether manufacturers of f-gases should be made to pay for the HFC quotas they are currently receiving for free under the F-Gas Regulation, Veyssilier was non-committal.

“When drafting the F-Gas Regulation, some stakeholders, including France, supported an auction-like mechanism to deliver quotas. The regulation, as it is published, doesn't include such a mechanism. But the quota decrease is quite strong and quite simple to implement,” the French ministry official said.

“The Commission has to produce a report soon on how successful the regulation is working on this particular issue and if implementing a different mechanism would bring more benefits. This will help to make good decisions on this in the future.”

To read the winter edition of Accelerate Europe magazine, please click here.

By Andrew Williams

Dec 08, 2016, 12:06

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