Everything you need to know about illegal refrigerants

Claus-Dieter Penno

03 Feb 2021

Claus-Dieter Penno

Claus-Dieter Penno has represented trade, commerce, industry, and educational institutions in the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump sectors since 2017. Before his election as President of the ZVKKW, he worked for decades as an engineer in the trade and distribution of refrigerants. “Our association and its companies are fully behind the F-Gas Regulation and its associated goal of environmental protection. Since the introduction of the regulation in 2015, the member companies have been striving to use refrigerants more efficiently in order to avoid a potential supply issues.”

At the same time, working with refrigerants can be extremely difficult for the industry – so difficult that some companies are likely to go out of business in the medium term. In their work they must keep up to date with the latest regulations whilst the black market creates unfair price pressure. According to Penno, this repeatedly leads to difficult conversations with some customers. Small companies in particular will not be able to cope with the pressure to reduce their prices in the medium term.

From a technical point of view, the black market also can damage equipment. According to Penno, many a plant operator has found that the refrigerants he has bought and filled himself do not meet the required specifications and so the refrigeration plant has stopped working. The companies in his association are then called in to extract the impure material and replace them with legitimately sourced refrigerants to avoid any major damage.

On behalf of the ZVKKW, Penno is also in contact with other national associations in Europe. He can confirm that the implementation of the F-Gas Regulation into national law as well as its enforcement differs from country to country. However, the challenges for small companies across Europe are very similar. In addition to harsher penalties for smugglers, Penno would like European policy makers to listen to the industry about the challenges they are facing.