What’s happening with F-Gas?

19 Nov 2019

From January 2020 current F-Gas legislation will enforce new rulings to ensure that installation, service and equipment bans come into force for appliances that run on higher GWP products such as R404A. RAC magazine held its annual F-Gas Question Time event in London recently and experts from the cooling sector agreed that now the use of R404A as a variable refrigerant in Europe was coming to a definite end.

With the 2020 deadline looming, reliance on R404A has fallen over the last few years and manufacturers and installers have been looking for alternatives, but there’s no clear front-runner. As well as benefits, all R404A replacement contenders seem to have their challenges – whether it’s flammability or a degree of toxicity.

Challenges to industry

Innovation in product design, such as efforts to reduce average refrigerant charge requirements will no doubt help the industry weather an enforced reduction in legal HFC gas levels in the UK, but it’s all up in the air to a certain extent until we know what’s happening with Brexit.

Energy concerns

Although the legislation makes very little mention of energy efficiency in its requirements and goals, there was consensus at the RAC event that there’s a need for more understanding of the subject in the design of cooling systems. Policy expert Ray Gluckman explained:

‘There is no point in lowering GWP if the energy goes up – getting the right balance is very difficult’

Brian Churchyard, senior manager of construction design standards at Asda identified cost pressures as his company’s greatest challenge in addressing energy efficiency and the demands of F-Gas regulation. In an effort to address these problems, he said that Asda was planning a more holistic approach in, focusing on maintenance as much as initial costs.

There were also discussions about an increase in the use of carbon dioxide to help lower GWP in more efficient systems.

Graeme Fox of Refcom emphasised the importance of training and the capability of those handling new lower-flammability products. He said:

‘For me, any refrigeration engineer that is going through an apprenticeship now shouldn’t be able to be qualified without having training in CO2, because they’re probably going to have to use it at some point in their career’

Meetings with Defra over the past few years to push through a mandated form of training on lower flammability products have been slightly side-lined by Brexit, but the government department has committed to promote any training that industry develops in this area. We are at the forefront of the training in this sector, currently the only Awarding Organisation to offer Level 3 qualifications.

Another panelist at the event, Ashwaq Mohammed, refrigeration manager for Hubbard Products, believes there’s no clear solution and that training needs to be consistent and accessible to provide a wide understanding of all types of refrigerant.

F Gas training from LCL Awards

We offer a suite of F-Gas qualifications to help you deliver the best training in the sector. For more information, please click here and please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your requirements.

If you are learner, please click here to find your nearest LCL Awards approved centre.