The Cold Hard Facts 2022 report presents the main figures for refrigeration in Australia
According to the latest Cold Hard Facts 2022 report published earlier this year, transition to low GWP refrigerants slowed down in Australia in 2021, and equipment sales increased across most commercial refrigeration segments.
The Cold Hard Facts 2022 report analyses 2021 data to identify key developments and emerging trends in the Australian refrigeration and air conditioning industry.
The share of refrigeration in the Australian economy
The report states that direct spending on hardware, consumables and energy, plus employment in the sector, was estimated at around 2.1% of Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, which is similar to spending in 2020. The production and transport of food, and the cold food chain infrastructure required, is projected to grow strongly in Australia over the next 20 years as export capacities expand, driven by ambitious agricultural export targets.
The refrigeration and air conditioning stock in Australia was estimated at over 60.0 million pieces of equipment in 2021, compared with 58.1 million in 2020 and 57.2 million in 2019. [1-3] Equipment sales were up across most commercial refrigeration segments. The stock in 2021 included over 17.2 million units of air conditioning equipment, over 20.1 million units of mobile air conditioning equipment, 1.9 million units of refrigerated food cold chain equipment and 20.8 million units of domestic refrigeration equipment.
The use of refrigerants increased in Australia between 2020 and 2021. The total bank of controlled refrigerants in 2021 is estimated at approximately 54,140 tonnes, an increase of around 700 tonnes over 2020. This is the fastest rate of growth in the bank since 2018. The authors of the report believe that the emergence of heat pumps substituting gas heating appliances will drive further growth in HFCs in the bank over the next decade, potentially putting at risk the observed slowdown reported in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The authors of the report estimate that just over 1,700 tonnes of natural and non-HFC refrigerants with a GWP<10 were in use in the stock of equipment in 2021, an increase of more than 21% from 2020.
In addition, the growing dependency on air-conditioning reinforced by recent heatwaves drove growth in the stock of medium and large commercial systems. As a result, nearly all commercial and public buildings in Australia were serviced by air conditioning in 2021.
Energy consumption and GHG emissions
Refrigeration equipment consumed about 67,950 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity in 2021, accounting for roughly 25% of all electricity generated in Australia that year. This figure represents a small increase on the previous reporting period.
Direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning were 59.6 Mt CO2e, or about 12% of Australia's national GHG emissions.
This figure takes into account electricity consumption related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as direct emissions to air of around 3,114 tonnes of HFC refrigerant from operating equipment.
The complete report is available on FRIDOC.
 Cold Hard Facts 2022. Australian Government. Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/ozone/publications/cold-hard-facts-2022
 Cold Hard Facts 2021. Australian Government. Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/ozone/publications/cold-hard-facts-2021
 Cold Hard Facts 2020. Australian Government. Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. https://www.dcceew.gov.au/environment/protection/ozone/publications/cold-hard-facts-2020