The HCFC phase-out challenge (2)

- Following the decision taken in September 2007 by the signatory countries of the Montreal Protocol to accelerate by 10 years the phase-out schedule of HCFCs, the IIR has decided to have a regular section in the Newsletter dedicated to this crucial issue. Adjustments to the Montreal Protocol - which will enter into force on May 14, 2008 - specify that production and consumption of HCFCs are to be gradually phased out with complete phase-out by 2030 in developing countries and by 2020 in developed countries. Several countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the USA (see Newsletter No. 33), have established specific regulations regarding HCFCs. - In this issue of the Newsletter, we present the situation of the European Union countries. On June 29, 2000, the European Parliament issued Regulation 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer which specifies the following deadlines regarding HCFCs: on January 1, 2010: prohibition of the use of virgin HCFCs in the maintenance and servicing of all equipment; on January 1, 2015: prohibition of the use of all HCFCs, including recycled HCFCs. A review clause applies to this date: it specifies that "by the end of 2008, the European Commission will have investigated the technical and economic availability of alternatives to recycled HCFCs and that the results of this review will lead to a change in the previously defined date where necessary". More information should be provided in June 2008, since Member States will be presented with the report by a consultant entrusted to conduct a study on the impact of an earlier phase-out of HCFCs in industrial refrigeration. The 2015 time frame envisaged could be brought forward to 2012. These deadlines will probably pose important problems in many European countries. In France, for example, about 30% of industrial refrigeration plants still use R-22 (HCFC) and a shortage of R-22 for maintenance purposes could be expected when, by the end of 2009, the only way of recharging refrigerating plants will be to use recycled HCFCs. The French Ministry of Economy, Finance and Employment published a message warning owners of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment using HCFCs including R-22 that recycled R-22 is likely to be in short supply starting in 2010. The message encurages owners to start retrofitting or replacing their current equipment running on R-22, adding that delayed action could lead to a shortage of qualified staff capable of performing the work required.