Especially in developing countries and emerging econo- mies, the refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) sec- tor is expanding and is expected to account for 13% (GCI, 2014b) of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, posing an ever-increasing environmental threat. HFCs, widely used to substitute CFCs and HCFCs un- der the Montreal Protocol (1989), have a global warming potential (GWP) of up to 4,000 times higher than CO2. In addition, a majority of cooling appliances in use are not very energy efficient, consuming vast amounts of electricity and thereby indirectly contributing to GHG emissions that further accelerate climate change.
In the Kigali Amendment (2016) to the Montreal Pro- tocol 197 countries have committed to phase down HFCs according to fixed schedules and baselines de- pending on their development status. The amendment is expected to hinder 90% of the temperature increase that would have been caused by HFCs. Its ratification in November 2017 heightens the pressure on manufac- turers to produce climate-friendly RAC equipment.
This guide provides arguments and guidance for chang- ing directly from HFCs to natural refrigerants in en- ergy efficient systems, rather than focusing on interme- diate HFC-substitutes (such as HFOs). Natural refrigerants are significantly less expensive compared to HFCs/HFOs, have negligible GWP and no ozone depleting potential (ODP), are infinite and their extrac- tion from the atmosphere does not damage the environ- ment. For almost every application and system type, refrigeration equipment using natural refrigerants is commercially available. Scientists, engineers and enter- prises are constantly working on better and less costly ways and solutions to improve the safety of natural re- frigerant systems along with energy efficiency measures.
When considering converting equipment to a new re- frigerant, each system and related production must be evaluated independently to assess the uniform system design, installation location and production precondi- tions. Increased toxicity and/or flammability call for added attention when introducing natural refrigerants.
Meanwhile, natural refrigerants in general are techni- cally and economically feasible alternatives to synthet- ic refrigerants for numerous applications. To support their timely introduction, barriers that currently slow down the wide-scale introduction of natural refriger- ants, such as funding, standards and regulations, and adequate training, need to be addressed and solved.
This guide adresses in particular the manufacturers of commercial and industrial equipment. The aim is to:
ʁ introduce international agreements and the regula- tory landscape in key global regions (i.e. existing and upcoming F-gas policies),
ʁ present availabe environmentally-friendly alterna- tives as direct replacement for HFCs and other chemical blends currently used in the refrigeration sector,
ʁ provide information on relevant technical and eco- nomic aspects to be considered when converting to environment-friendly alternatives, e.g. for product redesign, new components and planning product line adaptations,
ʁ provide practical application examples to demon- strate the technical feasibility of alternative tech- nologies using natural refrigerants, conversion benefits and remaining challenges.
Finally, the recommendations intend to support manu- facturers to be ahead of upcoming phase-out legis- lations, and to shorten their learning curve by provid- ing, based on experiences, relevant information on potential technical and financial impacts when convert- ing to natural refrigerants. This will allow RAC manu- facturers to maintain their competitiveness in the global market and national governments to fulfil their com- mitments under the Kigali Amendment to the Mon- treal Protocol. Further, as HFCs are listed under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as GHG to be reported and reduced, the large-scale introduction of natural refrigerants also con- tributes to meeting the Paris Agreement’s ambitious climate targets.