Fluorinated greenhouse gases

Recent developments

On 21 May 2014, European Commission published a formal notice in the Official Journal for companies wishing to market hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the EU in 2015. Companies need to register and submit their applications for 2015 HFC quotas by 1 July 2014.

Under the new regulation, companies will be allocated quotas that limit future sales of HFCs. The formal notice describes the process for registering with the new HFC Registry. This is required both for companies that have legally reported production or imports in the period 2009-2012 ('reporting companies') as well as for 'new entrants' to the market that have not done so.

Reporting companies will be given reference values based on their historic data. New entrants will have to declare their need for quota to the European Commission, which will allocate quotas on a pro rata basis until no more quotas are available.

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Legislative Framework

The original F-gas Regulation, adopted in 2006, is replaced by a new Regulation adopted in 2014 which applies from 1 January 2015. This strengthens the existing measures and introduces a number of far-reaching changes by:

  • Limiting the total amount of the most important F-gases that can be sold in the EU from 2015 onwards and phasing them down in steps to one-fifth of 2014 sales in 2030.
  • Banning the use of F-gases in many new types of equipment where less harmful alternatives are widely available, such as fridges in homes or supermarkets, air conditioning and foams and aerosols;
  • Preventing emissions of F-gases from existing equipment by requiring checks, proper servicing and recovery of the gases at the end of the equipment's life.

The expected cumulative emission savings are 1.5 Gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2030 and 5 Gigatonnes by 2050.

The new Regulation anticipates a global phase-down of the consumption and production of HFCs on the basis of proposals currently being discussed under the Montreal Protocol on protecting the ozone layer.

Where F-gases are used

F-gases are used in several types of products and appliances, mainly as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and halons which are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol and EU legislation.

  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are the most common group of F-gases. They are used in various sectors and applications, such as refrigerants in refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment; as blowing agents for foams; as solvents; and in fire extinguishers and aerosols.
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are typically used in the electronics sector (for example for plasma cleaning of silicon wafers) as well as in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. In the past PFCs were also used in fire extinguishers and can still be found in older fire protection systems.
  • Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is used mainly as an insulating gas, in high voltage switchgear and in the production of magnesium and aluminium.
Keywords:
F-gases
Fluorinated greenhouse gases
Fluorinated greenhouse gases