EU Regulation concerning fluorinated greenhouse gases

The use of fluorinated greenhouse gases has been governed since 2006 by Regulation (EC) No. 842/2006. Regulation (EU) No 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases applies since 1 January 2015, repealing Regulation (EC) No 842/2006.

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EU Regulation No 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases

After consent of the European Parliament (EP) and the Council, Regulation No 507/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases and repealing Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 (new F-gas Regulation) was published in the Official Journal of the EU (L 150/95) on 20 May 2014. The new Regulation entered into force on 9 June 2014 and applies since 1 January 2015.

Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases is repealed. The additional implementation specifications for Regulation (EC) 842/2006 which the European Commission adopted in December 2007 shall remain in effect until new implementation specifications are enacted. See the 'Statutes and Regulations' web page for a list of links.

The new F-gas Regulation will help to reduce emissions from industry to 70 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. The new provisions aim to decrease the EU's emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) by 70 million tonnes (mt) of CO2 equivalent, to 35 mt of CO2 equivalent by 2030. Three main regulatory approaches are to effect a reduction of fluorinated greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. Introduction of a gradual phase-down of the quantities of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) available on the market to one-fifth of current levels by 2030,
  2. Prohibitions on use and placement on the market, insofar as technically feasible and more climate friendly alternatives are available,
  3. Continuation and expansion of the scope of regulations concerning leak tests, certification, disposal and labelling.

In particular the new F-gas Regulation will create incentives to use alternatives to F-gases.

The Federal Government will revise the Chemicals – Climate Protection Ordinance (ChemKlimaschutzV) and adopt penalty provisions in an amended Chemicals Sanction Ordinance (ChemSanktionsV).

The Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Environment Ministry (BMUB) hosted a conference on the new F-gas Regulation on 28 March 2014 which discussed possible impacts of the Regulation with players in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry and producers of insulation materials. Click here to access the conference talks and further information.

 

Phase-down – a gradual limitation of the quantities of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) available on the market up to 2030

The quantity of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) marketed in the EU will gradually be reduced to one fifth of current sales levels (21%) by 2030. The following diagram shows the phases of the reduction.

The HFCs affected by the phase-down and quotas are those placed on the market in bulk and in the filling capacities of imported equipment. A certain few applications are exempted from the regulation, for the example the use of HFC as feedstock.

All the demand for HFCs in the EU will compete for a single total quantity; that is, there are no quotas for the individual Member States or individual applications.

The quantity of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) marketed in the EU will gradually be reduced to one fifth of current sales levels (21%) by 2030.
Percentage of maximum allowable quantities of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) placed on the market
Source: Umweltbundesamt
 

Phase-down procedure

Since 1 January 2015, companies which place 100 tonnes or more of CO2 equivalent on the market per calendar year require a quota. Both "historical" producers and importers and "new" market entrants (who have not previously reported placement on the market) may receive a quota, which requires registration in an electronic registry. Article 16 Para 2 of the Regulation stipulates that "new" market entrants must notify the Commission of their intention to place HFCs on the market. This notification must include data on the prospective quantities that will be placed on the market. The Official Journal of the EU published a "Notice to producers and importers of hydrofluorocarbons and to new undertakings intending to place hydrofluorocarbons in bulk on the market in the European Union in 2017" which refers to the phase-down procedure. Undertakings based outside of the EU must authorise an only representative in the EU to apply for a quota.

For producers of importers which have previously reported placement on the market ("historical" participants), the European Commission established reference values (Article 16 Para 1). These reference values are based on a calculation of the average quantities placed on the market in bulk minus the quantities of HFCs which Article 15(2), letters (a)-(e) state are not subject to the phase down. The Commission will recalculate the reference values by 31 October 2017 and every three years thereafter. The reference values (RV) provide the basis for the allocated quotas (Q):

Q = RV * 89% * Phase-down factor (Annex V) + additional quantity from New Entry Reserve

"New" market entrants receive their quotas exclusively from the new entry reserve. This is because 11% of the quantities of bulk HFCs placed on the market in 2009-2012 (total quantity calculated by the Commission) will initially not be allocated to "historical" producers and importers. Total quantity is calculated on the basis of the total quantity placed on the market by all operators during the period from 2009 to 2012.

 

Prohibitions of use and placement on the market

The new F-gas Regulation issues prohibitions on the use and placement on the market which take effect at different points in time. Article 13 of the Regulation governs prohibitions of use whereas Article 11 in association with Annex III governs restrictions on placement on the market.

Article 13 Para 1 prohibits the use of sulphur hexafluoride in magnesium die-casting.

Article 13 Para 3 prohibits the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases with a global warming potential of 2,500 or more to service or maintain refrigeration equipment with a charge size of 40 tonnes of CO2 equivalent or more, effective 1 January 2020. This prohibition does not apply to military equipment or equipment intended for applications designed to cool products to temperatures below – 50°C. It also exempts reclaimed and recycled F-gases until 1 January 2030, although they may only be used by certain specific undertakings.

For a list of the Global Warming Potential of many of the fluorinated greenhouse gases and mixtures used as refrigerants, click here.

The new F-Gas Regulation defines 'use' as the "utilisation of fluorinated greenhouse gases in the production, maintenance or servicing, including the refilling, of products and equipment, or in other processes referred to in this Regulation". "Maintenance and servicing" is defined as "all activities . . . that entail breaking into the circuits containing or designed to contain fluorinated greenhouse gases, in particular supplying the system with fluorinated greenhouse gases, removing one or more pieces of circuit or equipment, reassembling two or more pieces of circuit or equipment, as well as repairing leaks."

Some of the applications whose placement on the market is prohibited include centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use (as of 1 January 2022, rated capacity of 40 kW or more), stationary refrigeration equipment (as of 1 January 2020,with a GWP of 2,500 or more), certain single split air-conditioning systems (as of 1 January 2025, with a GWP of 750 or more) and a number of foams and aerosols. See Annex III of the new F-gas Regulation for a complete list.

 

Operator obligations

Operators of certain equipment were already required to meet a number of obligations under Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases. These obligations remain largely unchanged under the new F-gas Regulation, although some new duties have been added whilst others have been redefined. Please refer to the full text of the Regulation for details of the obligations to be met by individual operators. Operators of the following equipment are affected:

  • stationary refrigeration;
  • stationary air-conditioning;
  • stationary heat pumps;
  • stationary fire protection systems;
  • refrigeration units of refrigerated trucks and trailers;
  • electrical switchgear;
  • organic Rankine cycles.

The following is only a partial listing of operator obligations, although not all obligations are applicable to all applications:

  • Overall emission reduction (Art. 3 Para 1 and 2);
  • Repair (Art. 3 Para 3);
  • Leak checks (Art. 4 Para 1);
  • Leakage detection systems (Art. 5);
  • Record keeping (Art. 6 Paras 1-2);
  • Recovery (Art. 8);
  • Duty to ascertain whether an undertaking assigned with the installation, servicing, maintenance, repair or decommissioning of the equipment holds the necessary certificates for the required tasks (Art. 10 Para 11);
  • Provisions of sale and purchase (Art. 11 Para 4).
 

Implementing Acts

In order to further specify certain obligations the European Commission has issued Commission Implementing Regulations. Commission Regulations already issued under Regulation (EC) No 842/2006 remain valid as long as they are not explicitly repealed by a new Commission Implementing Regulation. Links to all Commission Implementing Regulations can be found at EU regulations.