Do we need HFCs?
For now we need HFCs. Find out why below.
Because of their GHG impact, the EU has committed to phase down HFC emissions through a managed quota system within the F-gas regulation, which entered into force in 2015.
By 2030, the EU aims to phase down emissions from HFCs by nearly 80%.
HFCs are not flammable, not toxic, not ozone depleting, energy efficient, and have a wide range of thermodynamic properties that allow applications tailored to various climate and thermal conditions. For some uses, HFCs are still the best option.
This is not the first time the industry has made a massive refrigerant transformation.
HFCs were developed as alternatives to chloroflourocarbons (CFCs), ozone-depleting substances that have been phased out since 1996 under the Montreal Protocol.
HFCs solved the problem of ozone-depletion, but on average have a high Global Warming Potential (GWP).
To achieve EU climate goals, different refrigerants are needed: the EU is transitioning towards newer HFCs with low GWP, natural refrigerants, as well as the next generation of refrigerants, called hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs.)
The universal, ideal refrigerant does not exist. The challenge lies in finding the right, low GWP refrigerant for each application.
Some equipment, such as automotive air-conditioning systems, have used HFOs in Europe since 2017.
Others, such as industrial cooling systems, will take much longer to adapt because of the relatively long equipment lifespan. Throwing out well-functioning equipment also doesn’t help progress towards climate goals.
However, illegal HFCs are finding their way back, eroding the progress towards lower GWP refrigerants.