The F-Gas Regulation and the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol are contributing to the introduction of lower GWP refrigerants, including HFCs, HFC/HFO-blends and HFOs. EFCTC agrees with the conclusion of the recent RAC F-Gas Question Time discussion, which stated that improved containment and recycling is necessary for HFCs to minimise emissions and maximise availability of HFCs under the phase-down cap. The lower GWP refrigerants together with improved system design and control are contributing to reduced energy consumption. EFCTC supports the adoption of highly efficient systems, including where possible for example ‘free cooling’ and waste heat recovery, using lower GWP refrigerants having the optimum technical and safety properties.
The recent TEAP Report on Energy Efficiency stated that Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps (RACHP) are increasing rapidly, and in 2015, they were estimated to consume 17% of electricity worldwide. Over 80% of the global warming impact of RACHP systems is associated with the generation of the electricity to operate the equipment (indirect emissions), with a decreasing proportion coming from the use/release (direct emissions) of high Global Warming Potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as their use declines. A decrease in the global warming impact of RACHP can be achieved through increased energy efficiency (EE) combined with a transition to low-GWP refrigerants. The International Energy Agency (IEA) report the future of cooling predicts that the estimated 1.6 billion buildings worldwide currently outfitted with air conditioning units will increase to 5.6 billion by the year 2050. The IEA noted that currently, units sold in Europe and Japan are typically 25 % more efficient than the units sold in the U.S. and China and points out that investing in more efficient ACs could cut future energy demand in half. According to International Institute of Refrigeration estimates (35th Informatory Note on Refrigeration Technologies / November 2017 “The impact of the refrigeration sector on climate change”), 7.8% of global greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions (direct emissions and indirect emissions) are attributed to the refrigeration sector, or 4.14 GtCO2eq. According to a recent article, the global international trade of refrigerated perishables is about 150 million tonnes. However, the global cold chain also has a positive effect of improving food supply and minimising emissions due to food wastage.
The measures are in place to reduce HFC emissions and increase use of lower GWP refrigerants, including HFCs, HFC/HFO-blends and HFOs. As industry, we need to work harder to minimise refrigerant emissions, but we must not lose sight of the fact that reducing energy consumption is an even greater challenge.