Following the publication of the European Commission’s proposal to revise the F-gas Regulation earlier this year, the European FluoroCarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC) held an event last week to exchange views on the proposed changes to the Regulation.
Hosted at the European Parliament by MEP Stelios Kympouropoulos, the event brought together European policymakers, F-gases manufacturers and downstream users, who discussed the implications of proposed revisions to the F-gas Regulation.
Other topics for discussion included the use of refrigerant gases in household energy-saving applications and medical devices as well as the challenges faced due to illegal trade of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) into the European Union.
According to Kympouropoulos, “F-gases are essential for many applications in our lives, including life-saving healthcare devices. Revisions to the F-gas Regulation should not be taken lightly. A holistic approach that focuses on technical feasibility, energy efficiency, and takes into account patients access to safe and reliable technologies is vital.”
Elsewhere, EFCTC representative and member Mary B. Walsh described the EU regulation on F-gases as a "gold standard" internationally in terms of reducing and containing emissions.
"EFCTC is proud to have played a role in the success of the regulation to date," she added. "However, times have changed since the last review of the regulation. With stronger decarbonisation ambitions and recent commitments to reduce our energy dependency under the RePowerEU plan, we need to look at the Regulation review in this new context.”
In the current energy crisis, concerns were raised by representatives from the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) on the restriction of HFCs, which are needed for the expansive and safe roll out of energy-saving heat pumps under the EU’s new energy plan.
A steeper phase-down of F-gases, as in the European Commission's proposal for revision, may slow adoption of heat pumps and ambitions to roll out 80 million heat pumps by 2050.
Questions were also raised around the availability and safety of alternatives refrigerants to be used at scale while technology is still in development. In 2020 alone, only one third of EU households were suitable for installing heat pumps with flammable refrigerants such as propane, one of the HFCs alternatives.
Tackling Illegal Trade
At the event, the EFCTC responded to questions on the thriving black market for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the EU, which arose in 2018 due to lack of enforcement in a number of Member States of the original F-gas Regulation and the phase-down quota-system.
The industry itself has facilitated over 2,000 takedowns of illegal trade online and run more than 20 sessions with customs authorities across 22 markets as part of their campaign to combat illegal imports and sales of HFCs. New steps proposed by the European Commission to combat illegal trade of HFCs that include improving border controls and enforcement were welcomed.