No changes to hydrocarbon rules says government

Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, has responded to the parliamentary petition to “approve the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants and appliances in Queensland” tabled by One Nation member for Mirani, Stephen Andrew.

The petition decried the “heavy-handed and completely unnecessary” rules surrounding hydrocarbon refrigerants in Queensland, and asked the government to “bring their legislation on hydrocarbon use in line with every other Australian state and territory”. It also made strong claims about the potential energy efficiency and direct emissions benefits of hydrocarbons.

In his response, the minister clarified that hydrocarbon refrigerants and appliances may be used in Queensland under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004. According to Dr Lynham, as of August 13, 2020 there were 2,800 models of refrigeration devices – including domestic fridges – that use hydrocarbon refrigerant approved for use in Queensland.

“The Queensland public has access to a wide range of hydrocarbon refrigeration devices if they choose to purchase them,” said the minister.

“The P&G Act complements the other workplace health and safety and electrical legislation, and does not add any additional impost not already covered by the diligent application of the relevant legislation and Australian standards.

“The petition does not provide any documentation to support any mismatch between the legal requirements for the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants in Queensland and the other states or territories.”

Critics of the Queensland system have noted that in order for technicians to work with HVAC&R systems that use hydrocarbons as a refrigerant, they must obtain a special gas work licence through the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy – a different process from other states and territories.

But the minister defended the Queensland system, citing the state’s excellent safety record.

“Over the past 10 years there have been three confirmed incidents in other state jurisdictions resulting in two deaths and four serious injuries as a result of the misuse of hydrocarbon refrigerant,” he said. “There are no reports of serious injury resulting from hydrocarbon refrigerants in Queensland.”

Dr Lynham also questioned the petition’s claims of potential energy-efficiency benefits.

“There is no empirical data to support the energy saving figures quoted in the petition,” he says. “In fact, the Energy Star rating for hydrocarbon refrigeration devices does not reflect the energy saving outlined in the petition.”

To read the full response and the original petition, click here.

One Reply to “No changes to hydrocarbon rules says government

  1. The legislation was quietly updated on October 1, 2020 before a Parliament response was given. Any wonder Parliament has given the response that the rules haven’t been changed!

    If you have a hydrocarbon refrigerant licence in QLD, are familiar with the Standards and safety requirements, and know how much gas to put in the system, you’re good to go! I’ve done a few conversions myself now.

    I’ve even got our R410A loungeroom air conditioner running straight R290 by calculating and putting a capillary across the expansion valve and weighing in the equivalent charge. That unit has had a flogging in keeping the house cool for the cat (as we have solar!) and still running strong!

    Check my website. If any techs in QLD want work, drop me a line or hit up the “Hydrocarbon Refrigerants QLD and Australia” Facebook group.

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