Greenpeace, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and shecco presented freshly published reports on climate friendly heating & cooling solutions being used worldwide at the ATMOsphere Bangkok 2012 conference held on 27 July 2012 in the Thai capital. The programme of the side event to the July United Nations Montreal Protocol meeting (32nd meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer) included perspectives of hydrocarbon cooling equipment manufacturer AHT Cooling Systems, as well as the Green Cooling Association, which gave an update on the impact of the recently introduced Australian carbon equivalent price on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
The event was targeted at climate negotiators seeking information on natural refrigerants as technologically viable, safe and efficient replacements to chemical refrigerants that have to be phased out in the near future.
Presentations on newly published reports with worldwide focus
Natasha Hurley from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) presented the key findings of the newly released fourth edition of the ‘Chilling Facts’ report. The report has revealed a 44% increase in HFC-free stores in the UK as compared to last year’s findings, bringing the number to 344 from only 14 in 2008 when the survey was first launched. For the first time, EIA has extended the geographical scope of the survey and included ten European retailers that reported a total of 559 supermarkets using natural refrigerants.
Janos Maté from Greenpeace presented the 2012 interim report ‘Cool Technologies: Working Without HFCs’. The report demonstrates that natural refrigerant-based technologies exist in most of the heating and cooling sectors and that companies are rapidly moving away from HFCs. “Whilst the first ‘Cool Technologies’ report in 1995 was only 6-7 pages long, today it has almost 90 pages”, said Mr. Maté reflecting the fact that a large number of equipment manufacturers and end-users have invested in HFC-free technology.
Alexandra Maratou from shecco gave an update on natural refrigerant projects and initiatives in Article 5 countries and economies in transition, presenting selected examples included in the ‘60 examples of natural refrigerant stories in Article 5 countries and EITs’ publication. In 2012 alone there have been a number of significant achievements in terms of HFC-free installations in countries like Turkey, Thailand, India or China. This year has also seen an increasing trend towards putting in place enabling conditions, such as training of technicians or introduction of standards that could permit the wider deployment of natural refrigerants over the coming years. ”Although countries like China and India might not appear as the most proactive during Montreal Protocol negotiations and seem reluctant to commit to climate protection, there is significant movement when it comes to technology development and deployment of natural refrigerant solutions at a voluntary basis that merits recognition and applauding” says Ms. Maratou.
Climate friendly refrigeration with hydrocarbons – focus on Asia
Sumitra Eksithichai of AHT Cooling Systems, a hydrocarbon-based equipment manufacturer with worldwide operations, including China, Hong Kong, Brazil or India, discussed differences as well as challenges in relation to the acceptance of hydrocarbon equipment in various Asian countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea. She highlighted the good example of Thailand, where progressive retailers invest in hydrocarbon equipment to cut their energy costs.
Carbon taxes – the Australian carbon equivalent levy on HFCs
Closing the event was a presentation by Brent Hoare, of the Green Cooling Association, focusing on the Australian carbon equivalent levy on HFCs that was introduced on 1 July 2012. In addition to encouraging increased recycling of synthetic gases, leakage reduction, the switch to equipment using natural refrigerants and spurring innovation, the increased price on HFCs will also promote the use of available retrofit refrigerant solutions. Mr Hoare highlighted that the transition towards low-GWP refrigerants is a major undertaking and requires coordination within the industry, including end-users as well as with the government. Many elements, such as awareness, standards, licensing and training have to be considered and funding for these activities needs to be allocated. To this end, Mr Hoare emphasised that a roadmap with concrete steps and targets should be put together.