F-Gas ban 2020

From 1st January 2020 a requirement of Regulation 517/2014 comes into force, which will ban the use of F-gases with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 2500 or more to service or maintain refrigerant equipment. This will only apply to equipment with a charge size of 40 tonnes CO2e or more, but will prohibit the use of multiple f-gases that are currently on the market in certain scenarios.

These changes in legislation are likely to affect the following appliances:

  • commercial refrigeration;
  • industrial refrigeration;
  • heat pump equipment; and
  • air conditioning units.

F-gases are man-made refrigerants which help transport heat around systems to either cool or heat a specific area. F-gases also contribute to global warming and can be released into the atmosphere through equipment leaks, decommissions or anything that releases gas from equipment.

There are different varieties of gases which all have individual codes such as:

  • R404a;
  • R134a;
  • R448;
  • R449; and
  • R32.

EU Regulations are in place to restrict the use of F-gases with regulations intensifying in recent years.

Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases places restrictions on the use of certain refrigerants. Particular refrigerants such as R22 is already banned, and R404a is due to be banned in January 2020; other gases are set to be phased out and banned in the future. The banning of f-gases is usually done in stages, with restrictions applied over a number of years until they are phased out.

In January 2020, it will become illegal to fill systems with virgin refrigeration gas (freshly manufactured gas) if they meet the following conditions:

  • The refrigerant gas has a global warming potential (GWP) of over 2500:
    • each gas has its own GWP which is listed in the F-gas log book accompanying your equipment;
    • if the GWP of your gas is over 2500, you may need to take action as the regulations may affect your equipment.
  • The system contains an amount of refrigerant has which is equivalent to 40 tonnes or more of CO2:
    • the CO2 equivalent figure takes into account the mass of the gas in the equipment and how much the gas effect global warming;
    • this figure is listed in the F-gas log book accompanying your equipment.

If your equipment meets the above criteria, you will no longer be able to receive virgin gas from January 2020, however, you are still able to operate your equipment. If a system develops a leak or the gas becomes contaminated, only reclaimed or recycled gas can be used. Reclaimed and recycled gas however is also set to be banned from 2030.

If your organisation is affected by these changes, it is important to consider and address any issues in advance.