Experts and Industry showcase alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons at the Sustainable Technologies for Stationary Air Conditioning Workshop in Las Vegas

One of the most common gases used to cool homes and refrigerate food is ironically one of the strongest at warming the planet. In October 2016, due to the concern for the high global warming potential (GWP) of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), countries agreed to start phasing down their use through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol (known as the Kigali Amendment).

An HFC phase down will require countries and businesses to move toward replacements suitable for a variety of uses and climates, and that are safe for both people and the environment.

To discuss these alternatives almost 200 people from governments, NGOs and the private sector met in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Sustainable Technologies for Stationary Air Conditioning Workshop, to learn about environmentally-friendly, energy efficient and cost effective alternative technologies in air conditioning, the fastest growing sector using HFCs.

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Participants at the Sustainable Technologies for Stationary Air Conditioning Workshop

The workshop was held on the margins of one of the world’s largest air conditioning, heating and refrigeration expositions and provided the opportunity for industry representatives to showcase climate friendly and energy efficient technologies available, and in development, to replace high GWP HFCs.

“The Kigali agreement to phase down HFCs was a major global achievement. Clean technology workshops, such as this one, demonstrate that climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs are available in the marketplace, and can be implemented in all countries,” Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change, said.  “Replacing HFCs with climate-friendly refrigerants and technologies will help spark business innovation, while creating good-paying jobs in a low-carbon economy.”

“The workshop illustrates that alternative technologies with no or negligible global warming potential exist, have proven their applicability for air conditioning purposes, and significantly advance energy efficiency benchmarks,” said Maria Krautzberger, President of the German Environment Agency.

Over 20 international experts identified key HFC alternative technologies for the air conditioning sector, taking into account safety, operation performance in many environments including those with high ambient temperatures, energy efficiency, and technology deployment in developing countries. They also discussed the development of appropriate policies and standards necessary to facilitate the introduction and safe use of alternative refrigerants and technologies.

Replacing HFCs with climate-friendly refrigerants and technologies will help spark business innovation, while creating good-paying jobs in a low-carbon economy
Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada

“The leadership of the business community in identifying, developing and deploying alternatives has been the hallmark of the successful refrigerant transition over the last thirty-five years,” remarked Kevin Fay, executive director of the industry coalition, the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy.  “During this next stage, industry will continue to advance new solutions that are as functional, safe and energy efficient as incumbent technologies, while generating significant economic contributions.”

Numerous experts also noted that new generation air conditioning systems are much more energy efficient than their predecessors, thus providing a huge climate benefit from decreased energy use in addition to the benefits from reducing HFCs.

The workshop was a valuable opportunity to raise awareness and confidence of the availability of efficient technologies across a wide range of applications, including residential and light commercial air conditioning to large centralized systems, chillers and systems suited for special circumstances like those found in mines or data centers.

HFCs are widely used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances (ODS), and air conditioning and refrigeration are the largest uses of HFCs. Global demand for air conditioners has been rapidly growing due to rising comfort requirements in industrialized countries and to increasing industrial production as well as private income in emerging economies like China and India. Between now and 2040, it is expected that the global demand for high-GWP HFCs in the air conditioning sector could increase over seven times in a business-as-usual scenario.

According to a recent study, HFC emissions to the atmosphere are increasing rapidly, at a rate of about 10–15 per cent per year. If no measures are taken, it is estimated that HFCs will amount to 9–19 per cent of total CO2 emissions by 2050. Now more than ever there is a need to encourage the expanded use of alternative solutions that benefit the environment in an economically-viable manner.

The Sustainable Technologies for Stationary Air Conditioning Workshop was organized by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the governments of Canada, Germany and the USA, and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy. There was additional support from the Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). It took place on the margins of two important industry events in Las Vegas, the 2017 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 2017 Winter Meeting.

NOTES:

The CCAC HFC Initiative supports the development of HFC inventories and studies, information exchange on policy and technical issues, demonstration projects to validate and promote climate-friendly alternatives and technologies, and various capacity-building activities to disseminate information on emerging technologies and practices to transition away from high-GWP HFCs and minimize HFC leakages.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is a voluntary global partnership of 50 countries, 16 intergovernmental organizations, and 45 businesses, scientific institutions and civil society committed to catalyzing concrete, substantial action to reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (including methane, black carbon and many hydrofluorocarbons). The Coalition has 11 initiatives working to raise awareness, mobilize resources and lead transformative actions in key emitting and cross cutting sectors. SLCP reduction must go hand in hand with deep and persistent cuts to carbon dioxide and other long-lived greenhouse gases if we are to stay under a 2 degrees Celsius warming limit.

Contact

Tiy Chung CCAC Communications Officer: +33 6 26 71 79 81; tiy.chung@unep.org

Initiatives

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