Tender for maintenance and leak prevention program

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is developing an education program to encourage refrigeration and air conditioning equipment owners and facilities managers to improve their level of preventive maintenance.

The program aims to reduce refrigerant and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time reduce consumer costs by having their equipment operate more efficiently and leak less.

To support the education program, the Department is looking to identify the common faults that occur when equipment is installed or during its operation.

On May 25, the Department released a tender to produce a report that identifies the most common and most significant faults or maintenance failures that lead to refrigerant leaks and inefficient system operation, remedial actions to prevent these issues, and related data on equipment performance as a result of the occurrence of these issues.

The report will inform the next stage of the program, which is to develop information to educate consumers of the benefits of regular system maintenance. Submissions to the request close by 2pm on June 19.

Room for improvement

As part of the 2014-2016 review of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas program, the Australian government identified a maintenance and leak prevention program as a non-regulatory measure that could contribute to the reduction of emissions by around 35 million tonnes by 2030.

This would be achieved by informing equipment owners of the benefits of properly installing new equipment, and regularly maintaining it, leading to both reduced gas leakage and lower energy use.

The review did not identify specific areas or equipment that needed particular attention, but rather a general opportunity for improved maintenance across the range of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.

“The findings from the report we are commissioning will provide further insight,” says Pat McInerney, Director, Ozone and Climate Protection.

“The aim is to develop a greater understanding of the issues that need to be addressed, share this information with equipment installers and owners, and provide the tools to address these issues.”

Similarly, the 2014–2016 review did not pinpoint specific faults or issues with installations and maintenance, but identified the need to do so.

“Anecdotal evidence has been shared with the Department by industry members,” says McInerney. “We would very much try to build on that with data that can support the anecdotal evidence.”

Next steps

The Department expects that, following the findings of this report, it would work with industry, the states and territories and related Australian government departments to develop and roll out education and training to equipment users.

Other phases being considered include: bench-testing of systems to determine energy penalties and refrigerant leakage (where data or methodologies are not available); development of an app to allow users to work out the efficiency of their equipment; education campaigns targeted at households and commercial businesses on efficient use and maintenance of equipment; and a webpage for easy reference.

“To some extent, the next steps for this project will be informed by the findings,” says McInerney.

“Further work may need to be undertaken to inform certain aspects of the report, or we may be able to launch directly into developing and delivering education campaigns and so on.”

For more information on the tender request, click here.

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