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Australia will avoid the refrigerant supply shortages and spiralling cost issues seen in Europe as a result of the HFC phasedown, according to Refrigerants Australia executive director, Greg Picker.

This is because Australia has taken a gradual approach to its HFC phasedown timetable.

“With our phasedown we turn the tap every two years to ensure it is gradual unlike Europe which has just experienced a 37 per cent cut in its quota on top of another 11 per cent cut in one big swoop,” Picker said.

“This is why availability problems emerged in Europe but that isn't likely to happen here.”

There has been plenty of headlines in Europe about R410A supply problems to meet F-Gas quotas as well as massive price hikes.

Toshiba UK commercial manager, David Dunn, said users need to move to R32 to avoid major price increases and supply problems with both R410A as well as R404A.

While severe restrictions on the high GWP refrigerant R404A were predicted last year, air conditioning contractors in Europe are finding that sales of R410A are also being restricted.

Locally the HFC phasedown seems to be working but the Australian Refrigeration Association (ARA) is advising its members to choose replacement refrigerants wisely and to remember that R32 is also a HFC.

ARA president, Ian Tuena, said stakeholders need to realise that most of the replacement refrigerants on offer are only short term solutions.

"Choose your refrigerant wisely, have a close look at the components in the mix and ask yourself how long will this be available?" Tuena said.

"In the case of R404 it’s a no brainer, not long. Look at how you can future-proof your systems?

"Clearly natural solutions have an advantage but all options including HFOs have engineering issues whether its toxicity, flammability or pressure.

"A new skill set is required and education is the key."

In an article to be published in the upcoming June edition of CCN Magazine, Picker writes about the Australian phasedown experience describing it as 'smooth and steady'.

"For example, this year in Australia more split system air conditioners will be sold with R32 than R410A," Picker writes.

"Each piece of R32 equipment – due to its lower GWP and smaller charge size – represents only about 25 per cent of potency of R410 equipment. As a result of this, and other factors, Australia’s use is already about 25 per cent less than the baseline we were allowed under Kigali."

Europe did not have this advantage, he adds. "Instead the European schedule included massive reductions early. From 2016 to 2018, European allowances for HFCs dropped 40 per cent," Picker explains.

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