After reaching no deal last July on the revision of the F-gas regulation, a new round of inter-institutional discussion is set to start soon. Europe’s proposed tight timeline to phase out fluorinated gases is still on the table and remains a serious threat to EU decarbonisation plans and the mass roll out of heat pumps.
In April, the EU executive presented a proposal to get rid of F-gas refrigerants. If it became law, bans would enter into force from as early as 2027 for some products, including green technologies like heat pumps. The almost 30 thousands different models of heat pumps currently present on the market would thus have to 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.
This comes at a time when Europe placed heat pump technologies at the heart of its flagship REPowerEU plan to ditch fossil fuels and many European companies are already at the forefront of this development.
The sector has been investing in cleaner technologies using lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants and designing energy-efficient products that are good for the environment and for the wallet. However, ramping up the timeline for phasing out F-gases at the same time as ramping up the targets for heat pumps under REPowerEU is incompatible. The European Commission’s initiative sets a target to deploy 60 million heat pumps by 2030.
Designing systems that operate as efficiently with new refrigerant alternatives requires time and research, which comes with financial implications for both manufacturers and consumers. Manufacturers may face increased costs associated with redesigning their heat pump products to accommodate the new refrigerants. Users instead, would first face an issue of availability of products on the market - and as such, of affordability. At a later stage then, the phase-out would also result in higher initial costs for heat pump installations and replacements.