Ahead of The European Parliament's ENVI Committee vote on the draft report on F-gases, APPLiA’s Environment Policy Manager, Naomi Marc discusses how we can strike a fair proposal, which is technically feasible for all.
Introduced in January 2015, the F-Gas Regulation intended to reduce EU’s F-gas emissions by two-thirds by 2030, compared to 2014 levels. In April 2022, the European Commission presented a proposal to update the original Regulation, announcing the key goal for Europe to introduce a further phase-down as from 2024 and a full-fledged ban on F-gas, as from 2027.To reach the EU’s ambitious climate targets, the sector has been investing, in line with the most recent REPowerEU plan, to deploy 60 million new heat pumps by 2030. Heat pumps are vital to regaining Europe’s grip on the energy market while playing a key role in the shift away from fossil fuels. The use of F-gas is instrumental to the functioning of heat pumps and any disruption to expanding their use in Europe could seriously jeopardise the Commission’s climate targets.Ahead of The European Parliament's ENVI Committee vote on the draft report on F-gases, APPLiA’s Environment Policy Manager, Naomi Marc discusses how we can strike a fair proposal, which is technically feasible for all.
The proposed phase-down first, will drastically reduce the availability of critical refrigerants for heat pumps to heat and cool buildings, as from 2024. To then become a full-fledged ban as from 2027.
This means that the almost 30 thousands different models of heat pumps currently present on the market, would have to suddenly rely on natural refrigerant alternatives. Which involves the adaptation of production processes, but also the training of installers with an impact on the affordability of products.
There are mainly four elements that should be considered when assessing the shift to natural refrigerants.
The first is the technical feasibility. Meaning the actual availability of alternatives of refrigerants for some products, and adaptation of production processes like re-designing the products, for instance.
The second would be Safety. Natural refrigerants are, by nature, highly flammable and may not suit all kinds of product applications as well as buildings. Which raises a question on consumer safety, but also on the safety of the product during transport, installation, maintenance, and recycling.
Third, energy efficiency. Products must continue to fulfil Ecodesign requirements, regardless of the refrigerant used. Whether that is natural or not.
And finally, affordability. Solutions must be suited for the wallet, to put consumers in the condition to invest and make their own contribution to decarbonisation.
The home appliance industry is already investing in cleaner technologies using lower Global Warming Potential refrigerants and designing highly energy-efficient products that are good for the environment and for the wallet.
Heat pumps can highly contribute to decarbonisation efforts. And the sector has been investing in these, also in line with the REPowerEU ambitions, aiming at the deployment of 30 million new heat pumps in Europe by 2030. A goal that the proposed bans risk undermining, alongside climate objectives.
Developing new products using new solutions requires finding real alternatives. This cannot happen from one day to another.
If we truly want to achieve decarbonisation, investment, research, and time are key to make sure we can strike a balance that is fair and secure for all.