Standards blocking the use of natural refrigerants finally to be tackled in Europe

The European standardisation organisations CEN-CENELEC have agreed to begin work on a European Commission request to remove barriers to natural refrigerants in European standards. This is marked by the adoption of the agreement known as the ‘Fluorinated-Gas Standardisation Request’ by the European Commission.

The agreement between CEN-CENELEC and the European Commission is significant as it comes at time of heightened pressure to permit climate friendly alternatives to fluorinated gases. Phase down schedules for hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants under the EU’s F-Gas Regulation are rapidly approaching, alongside an increase in the number of countries ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Several key European standards have been identified as blocking the use of low global warming potential, natural flammable refrigerants that could be used in refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) sector and thereby significantly risk climate goals.

The Commission’s request to CEN-CENELEC has been under negotiation since June 2016, to address the shortcomings revealed in a Commission study on barriers to climate friendly alternative technologies in European standards. Urgency in discussions had been compounded by the adoption of the Kigali Amendment in late 2016, which had identified international standards crucial to European markets as important to update to permit alternatives to HFCs and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The agreement commits CEN-CENELEC to undertake an analysis of existing standards to identify standards that should be updated, and to draft technical specifications to ensure larger amounts of natural flammable refrigerants can be used with risk mitigation measures.

ECOS was involved in discussions on the Fluorinated-Gas Standardisation Request, to ensure that the work would lead to meaningful change in European standards. However, open questions remain on the deadline and status of the agreed work, with steep phase down schedules for HFC refrigerants rapidly approaching and standard barriers to natural flammable refrigerants still in place until completion.

ECOS will follow and contribute to work under the Fluorinated-Gas Standardisation Request to support the widespread use of climate friendly alternative refrigerants.

More information on the agreement can be found on the Commission’s standardisation mandate database here.