The two-day conference ‘Advancing Ozone & Climate Protection Technologies: Next Steps’, held on 21-22 July in Bangkok, Thailand, addressed existing and emerging heating and cooling technologies using refrigerants with low global warming potential (GWP) as replacements for harmful ozone-depleting HCFCs and climate-damaging HFCs. Complementing the conference was the Alternative Technologies Exhibition, with shecco one of the 30 organisations showcasing available environmentally-friendly technologies.
Jointly organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United States Government, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and supported by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), the conference attracted close to 400 leading industry experts, representatives from standards organisations, government officials and researchers from around the world.
During a session dedicated to standards and regulatory initiatives shecco’s Managing Director Marc Chasserot presented on the ‘opportunities of standards & regulations covering natural refrigerants’. Mr Chasserot gave a snapshot of the recent policy and standards developments from across the world that have a positive impact on the uptake of low GWP natural refrigerants: the July 2012 introduction of the carbon price equivalent on HFCs in Australia that internalises their environmental cost; the June 2012 European Commission decision that cleared the way for Denmark to continue indefinitely national bans on new refrigeration, heat pump and AC units containing f-gases; the release in June 2012 by China of a national safety standard for flammable refrigerants, formalising the use of hydrocarbons in air conditioners; the acceptance of flammability in the US with the authorisation of the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants in household and plug-in retail refrigeration; but also global co-operation initiatives to develop uniform standards such as the recent co-operation between US, EU and Chinese industry for the development of performance rating standards for CO2 compressors that establish common guidelines worldwide.
Mr Chasserot noted that the timing of these developments and the so-called “speed” factor would often determine whether such initiatives constitute an “opportunity” or a “challenge”. For example, the June 2012 US EPA determination of use conditions for natural refrigerant CO2 in new motor vehicle air conditioners came once the car industry had already selected a favoured option, therefore too late, and only on the initiative of the US EPA itself rather than the industry. Clear dates and ambitious, yet well balanced timelines on a sector-by-sector basis are also needed in the context of the ongoing revision of EU regulation on fluorinated gases, according to Mr Chasserot. Uncertainty about timelines would favour business as usual and hold up investment decisions and innovation by industry, as dates that are set too far out in the future would result in first movers pricing themselves out of market.
To turn “challenges” into “opportunities” and to bring natural refrigerants faster to market, it is vital that stakeholders involved with natural refrigerants actively engage in discussions and not just rely on others to represent them, concluded Mr Chasserot.
Innovators with natural refrigerant solutions
At the exhibition that was held in parallel to the conference, shecco presented brochures and other material from innovative companies that manufacture solutions using natural refrigerants for cooling and heating. These international companies are already successful for many years with viable, reliable and efficient systems and components using CO2, hydrocarbons and/or ammonia, including: Advansor, Alfa Laval, Carrier, Danfoss, Dorin, Mayekawa.
Background to the conference
The ‘Advancing Ozone & Climate Protection Technologies: Next Steps’ conference was organised back to back with the 32nd meeting of the Montreal Protocol Open-ended Working Group (23-27 July 2012), where Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer in preparation for the 24th Meeting of the Parties later this year (November 2012) considered among other topics proposals to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase-down HFCs. As there is a growing number of UN countries supporting international action on HFCs, the conference served as a platform for discussing and showcasing the growing range of commercialised or near-commercialised options that are both ozone and climate friendly, options that will allow enterprises and countries to take the next steps in the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances by means of leapfrogging replacement technologies with a high global warming impact.