AREA: Proposed new F-gas Regulation – EU risks undermining its own climate and energy security goals

In a joint declaration, the associations EPEE, AREA and EHPA, representatives of the full value chain of the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump sector in Europe are deeply concerned with the European Commission proposal fora revised EU F-Gas Regulation published on April 5th.

The proposal contains new worrying prohibitions on equipment critical to Europe’s decarbonisation and an unsustainable phase-down. These, in the face of insufficient alternatives and trained installers, will massively “decelerate” the deployment of heat pumps and other heating and cooling solutions required to achieve EU’s 2030 climate and energy, as well as geopolitical goals expressed in the European Commission’s recent #REPowerEU Communication.

They therefore urge the co-legislators to protect the EU’s goals by ensuring the F-gas Regulation is compatible with the availability of equipment, lower-GWP refrigerant alternatives and trained engineers to install them.

Thomas Nowak, Secretary general of the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA) said “To meet the ambition level set forth by the “REPowerEU” communication, we need a Heat Pump Accelerator and not a hard brake on heat pump deployment. All heat pumps – including air-air types- need to be massively deployed and this needs to be clearly supported by all EU institutions. Today’s proposal puts both the announced frontloading of heat pumps in the next 5 years as well as the 2030 and 2050 deployment target at risk. It needs a significant revision, if the Commission wants to achieve its renewables target and wean us of fossil energy use in heating and cooling.”

“The current EU F-Gas Regulation quota already cuts HFC use by 88% by 2030. Our modelling shows that this will be just enough to install the needed 50 million new heat pumps by then.”, said Folker Franz, Director General of EPEE, representing the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Industry in Europe. “The EU would harm its own cause by further cutting the quota: greenhouse gas emissions from F-gases are very small when compared with the emissions that can be saved by replacing fossil fuel heating with heat pump equipment.

Marco Buoni, President of the European association of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump contractors (AREA) concluded: “It is a shame that the effect of the new provisions on training of installers will be negated by the new set of bans. With hundreds of thousands of technicians needing to be upskilled to safely handle highly flammable refrigerants, the installer base will just not manage to make the conversion in time as there remains a shortage of both training facilities and trainers across the EU.