F-Gas Review: We Need All Options on the Table to REPowerEU
As the European Union continues to forge a path toward carbon neutrality by 2050, the role of sustainable heating and cooling solutions for businesses and consumers is critical.
This is explicitly recognized in the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, which sets ambitious targets for the installation of 60 million heat pumps across member states by 2030 in order to reduce reliance on fossil fuels for heating and cooling residential and commercial buildings. Heating alone accounts for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption and 70% of this still comes from burning fossil fuels.
To achieve the dramatic and necessary reductions in energy use and emissions demanded by the EU’s Green Deal, including the REPowerEU targets, we will need to rely on a variety of technologies and solutions. We’ll also need to continue to innovate.
At Honeywell, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We support the EU’s ambition and are firm in our belief that ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) are a vital part of the toolkit needed to make sure we can install the most sustainable heating and cooling solutions everywhere they are needed to meet the REPowerEU targets – from apartments to data centers and supermarkets.
In Europe, the F-Gas Regulation is currently undergoing its third revision. We support F-Gas Regulation as an essential tool to reduce emissions. Recent discussions, however, have led to the inclusion of amendments to the regulatory framework that would phase out the use of HFOs over a very short timeframe, risking significant unintended consequences. Over the past few weeks, we have seen a range of trade associations and companies across the EU expressing concern over the potential impact this could have.
HFOs are fluorine-based gases that are mainly used as refrigerants, blowing agents, propellants and solvents. They are used in heat pumps, air conditioning systems and commercial cooling installations. HFOs have low-GWP and are a ready-now boost needed to support the EU’s climate goals and energy independence as outlined in the Green Deal, “Fit for 55” and REPowerEU. HFOs are also significantly less hazardous compared to industrial alternatives – such as propane and ammonia – with no contribution to smog formation.
On March 30, the European Parliament will vote on the proposed revisions to the regulation, which could effectively ban all categories of HFOs, including those widely adopted over the last eight years. Unintended consequences of this approach include the hampering of the climate goals outlined in the Green Deal and REPowerEU as the F-Gas Regulation would prevent the use of ultra-low GWP HFO refrigerants needed to achieve alternate, low carbon and fossil fuel-independent sources of heating.
As heat pumps are rapidly being deployed throughout Europe, ultra-low GWP HFOs are vital to replace fossil fuel-powered heating systems with sustainable alternatives. In our view, which is shared by many others, it is inconceivable that the REPowerEU targets can be met without HFO-based solutions, as this would effectively remove the most energy-efficient and lowest emission option for heat pumps in the EU.
A ban on the use of HFOs in refrigeration, moreover, could have significant financial and environmental impacts, adding €10–30 billion in electricity costs to the European supermarket sector alone because of the lower energy efficiency of alternatives. A ban could also result in up to 24 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in emissions from EU supermarkets.*
The revision of the F-Gas Regulation, as now envisaged, will have consequences for the climate and for the day-to-day lives of Europe’s citizens and industries. Honeywell is urging European policymakers to listen to the groundswell of concern and consider the impact of the proposed amendments on the EU’s broader climate goals and the need for alternative energy solutions.
Phasing out HFOs would be a regressive move at a time when every policy decision – including the review of the F-Gas Regulation – provides us with an opportunity to take sustainable steps forward together. Get the fact on HFOs.
*Calculation based on Frankfurt climate conditions. Source: hwll.com/references.