UBA President Dirk Messner said: “Refrigeration and air conditioning are part of our everyday lives and essential in many sectors such as the food trade. However, synthetic refrigerants and obsolete equipment produce significant greenhouse gas emissions – eight million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2020 alone. They are also a risk to people and the environment. Natural refrigerants such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrocarbons, air and water offer viable alternatives. Their increased use in combination with energy-efficient systems can make a significant contribution to protecting the climate.”
The refrigeration sector plays an important role in reducing GHG emissions. For example, In the food trade, for example, an average 50 per cent of the energy consumed is for refrigeration and another 20 per cent for air conditioning.
Stefan Genth, Secretary General of the German Retail Federation (HDE), said: “Protecting the climate is a global task for society as a whole that requires everyone's cooperation. Our industry has done a great deal in terms of climate action in recent years and will continue to take responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future. Joint initiatives like these all the more important to achieve national and international climate goals.”
The choice of refrigerant in refrigeration and air conditioning systems has a high climate impact. In addition to natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons, ammonia and carbon dioxide, more than 90 percent of existing refrigeration systems still use refrigerants that damage the climate and have a high global warming potential. In some cases, their long-term environmental impact is unclear.
“Equipment that operates with renewable energy and uses natural refrigerants enables climate-neutral and environmentally sustainable cooling and heating. There is no time to lose in switching to natural refrigerants. A continuous exchange between all stakeholders is vital to implementing the newest findings and technical solutions in the best possible way,” emphasised Dietram Oppelt, Chair of Refrigerants Naturally!.
Switching to climate-friendly refrigerants
The key to switching to climate-friendly refrigeration and air conditioning is, for one, the availability of sufficient information for system operators about technical possibilities and, secondly, the availability of qualified specialist companies to provide targeted advice and install equipment.
Urgent action is necessary in this context, which is why Coolskills, an initiative by the Federal Association of German Refrigeration Plant Builders (BIV), the industry guild of Hesse/Thuringia/Baden-Württemberg , the Association of German Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Specialists (VDKF) and the Central Association of Cold and Air Conditioning Heat Pumps (ZvKKW), the German Retail Federation’s climate action campaign (HDE), the EU-funded project RefNat4LIFE, Refrigerants, Naturally! e.V. and the German Environment Agency are joining forces. Their joint initiative “Climate-friendly Cooling and Air-Conditioning with Natural Refrigerants” targets operators of cooling/air conditioning systems, retailers and specialist companies.
Roland Handschuh, Coolskills founder, said: “We face a host of technical challenges in the shift to climate-friendly refrigerants. Our refrigeration specialists have to learn how to handle new, often flammable refrigerants safely, and they have to convert existing systems to alternative refrigerants to the extent possible. Using these technologies requires trained personnel and an understanding of the statutory requirements.”
Webinar on 26 April 2022 with experts from refrigeration and cooling industry
The initiative provides system operators and specialist companies with targeted information on legal regulations, the fundamentals of climate-friendly cooling, training opportunities and government funding programmes. The portfolio also includes online courses and specialist publications on the relevant topics. While the initiative currently focuses on the food retail business, it will in future also address other areas such as food processing and industry.
The initiators are presenting their diverse range of information in a webinar on 26 April 2022 (9:00-10:00). Refrigerant experts from retail trade and refrigeration companies as well as grant consultants will offer advice on how to make the switch to climate-friendly refrigerants. Participation is free of charge.
Prior registration is required.