Lessons from Europe’s HFC phase-down

Reports from Europe indicate the HVAC&R industry is feeling the effects of the HFC phase-down – there known as the F-Gas Regulation.

Europe’s program came into force in 2015, so it is further advanced in the phase-down than Australia. It made a large step-change reduction this year, which differs from the gradual reduction scheduled here. Also, Europe includes pre-charged equipment in its quota, while Australia does not.

Still, Europe’s experience can provide some valuable lessons as we move towards the end of the first year of our own phase-down.

Andrea Voigt is Director General for the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment. She visited Australia earlier this year for AIRAH’s Refrigeration Conference. We caught up with her again for the latest news on the European HFC phase-down.

Voight says 2018 has been a challenging year.

“First of all, we are facing a major phase-down step of -37 per cent and probably even more due to the pre-charged equipment,” she says. “Second, any stocks that were piled up in previous years – and particularly before the F-gas Regulation entered into force in 2015 – have been exhausted. And third, it was an extremely hot summer.

“On the other hand, many things are working out OK. The market has started to adapt and in a number of sectors we can see clear trends. For example, R32 in small AC, HFOs in chillers, and hydrocarbons in plug-in equipment.”

Voight says some important lessons have been learned this year.

“If there is a key learning for me from this year, it’s really that communication is key to success,” she says. “If people don’t understand what the phase-down is and how it works, they will hardly act on it. The phase-down principle has been underestimated, because not properly understood.”

This is also another lesson learned from Europe: It’s important to first adapt the building codes and then introduce the phase-down, and not the other way round as was done in Europe.

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