EU F-Gas Regulation Review
On September 26, 2011, the European Commission issued a report that reviews the implementation and adequacy of the F-gas regulation (EC No 842/2006), which controls emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). For many uses of F-gases, such as HFCs in fire protection, the current regulation does not restrict use but instead requires reporting, recovery, containment, leak inspection, labeling and training.
The report, which draws from the results of an analytical study, concludes that the EU should take further action to reduce emissions of F-gases beyond the existing regulation and presents the following options:
- Gradually declining limits on the quantity of F-gases placed on the EU market
- Use and marketing prohibitions for new equipment and products (bans)
- Voluntary environmental agreements
For the fire protection sector, the analytical study includes the policy option of a voluntary agreement with industry leading to a ban on the use of HFC-23 as of 2015. According to the study HFC-23 is used for fire protection in six EU countries, particularly Spain. A ban on the use of HFC-227ea in fire protection was considered in the study but excluded from the final policy options. The study includes lifetime emission factors for the use of HFCs in total flooding systems of 2-3% and portable extinguishers of 4-5%.
The report includes the following additional information related to fire protection:
- The labeling provisions of the F-gas regulation apply to approximately "100 suppliers of gas containers including for fire protection systems."
- More than 50% of personnel and 90% of companies in the fire protection sector are not yet certified. Eight Member States have not yet notified the Commission on their training and certification systems.
- Compliance with containment measures has been applied to a higher extent in the fire protection sector due to existing voluntary technical standards.
- Recovery in the fire protection sector is currently a commonly applied practice during servicing and maintenance. The potential for recovery from systems containing F-gases will grow in the coming years, as such systems will be reaching their end of life.
- Available low-GWP fluids could enable a gradual cost-effective substitution of F-gases in applications including fire protection.
On the basis of this report, the Commission has launched a consultation that invites stakeholders to comment on possible options for strengthening EU measures to reduce emissions of fluorinated gases. Depending on the results of this consultation, the Commission could present a legislative proposal for revising the F-gas regulation.