• Gas cylinders.
    Gas cylinders.

The Federal government is seeking input from industry on how to reduce the use of high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants in the commercial and industrial refrigeration sector.

Commercial refrigeration equipment commonly uses higher GWP hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, in particular the HFC refrigerant R404A (GWP = 3,922).

With Australia’s phase-down of HFC imports now well advanced, this equipment sector is lagging in transitioning to lower GWP refrigerants.

Options being considered include restrictions on import and manufacture of new commercial refrigeration equipment using high GWP refrigerants, restrictions on assembly of custom-built equipment such as cool rooms and restrictions on the import and use of R404A.

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, which has released a background paper, has commenced consultations and industry feedback closes on Thursday, 8 August, 2024.

“The objective of this consultation is to develop policy options for consideration by government with the aim of increasing the pace of transition to low GWP refrigerants in the commercial refrigeration sector. This would reduce emissions and assist with smooth implementation of the HFC phase-down,” the consultation paper states.

“The main obstacle raised by technicians to using alternatives such as R448A or R449A is the refrigerant price difference (approximately $30 to $40 per kg more expensive than R404A for end users).

“Other obstacles include the technical characteristics of alternatives, such as flammability, toxicity, and high operating pressures; these can increase the price of the equipment compared with an R404A system.”

The paper proposes direct restrictions on the import, manufacture, and use of R404A to speed up the transition to lower GWP refrigerants.

“Restrictions could include a ban on import of new R404A from a set future date or restricting use of new R404A to servicing existing equipment (installed prior to a set date) only. Restrictions could also include controls or a ban on the reuse of R404A,” the paper said.