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Region: Europe

18th European Conference draws over 300 representatives from HVACR industry

The Milan event see participation from UNEP, UNIDO, FAO, the European Commission and Parliament, AREA, ATF, EPEE, AHRI, ASHRA and IIR, among others


MILAN, Italy, 24 June 2019: The Polytechnic University of Milan hosted more than 300 HVACR representatives from all over for the 18th edition of the European Conference on June 6 and 7.

The 18th edition of the European Conference

Co-organised by Centro Studi Galileo, with the collaboration of the United Nations Environment (UNEP) and the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), and under the auspices of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, the event saw participants and delegates share knowledge on recent developments relating to refrigerant gases and on strategies to combat climate change.

Widely acknowledged as the reference point for Europe’s HVACR sector, the event welcomed leading global experts from UNEP, UNIDO, FAO, the European Commission and Parliament, AREA, ATF, EPEE, EVIA, ASERCOM, AFF, AHRI, ASHRAE and JSRAE.

In the concluding remarks of the conference, the key participants acknowledged that such synergy and harmonious collaboration among all the relevant actors is fundamental to recognise the 2030 Agenda as an achievable target. Such objectives, they pointed out, have been established by the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include affordable and clean energy, industry innovation and infrastructure and climate action. They expressed confidence that manufacturers, producers, contractors and all other major players will follow and adapt to the needs of meeting the goals.

The event saw discussions on illegal trade. Niccolò Costantini of the European Commission Climate Action outlined a number of measures that the Commission is taking to tackle “modest” illegal trade. The Commission said it is continuing to emphasise to member states the importance of enforcement of the F-gas regulation and warns it will open infringement procedures against those member states deemed not to be making sufficient effort.

Stephen Yurek, President and CEO, AHRI, addressed the topic of the Kigali Amendment and shared information on the current US status vis-à-vis refrigerants. The treaty is under consideration by the White House, he said. AHRI and others continue to talk with the White House, agency staff and Senators about industry support for the ratification of the amendment, he said. At the same time, legislation that will implement a national phase-down without ratification is being explored, Yurek added. The industry continues to move towards implementation, regardless of the fate of the treaty, he highlighted. Speaking on flammability concerns, he said, we now have a much better understanding of the ignition risk and severity – even under worst-case scenarios, they are unlikely to happen. In fact, many household ignition sources and hot surfaces cannot ignite A2L refrigerants, he added.

Speaking on energy efficiency, Wolfgang Zaremski, President, Association of European Refrigeration Component Manufacturers, emphasised that energy is critical within the environmental approach. A significant efficiency increase is, in fact, required for any product that has been placed into the market since July 2018, he said. The certification of performance is critical in terms of compliance and confidence for the users. The GWP of refrigerants is the current focus with regard to CO2 emissions reduction, he said. The Total Equivalent Warming Impact (TEWI) of a system provides a more accurate representation of the overall environmental impact, he added. TEWI takes into account carbon emissions in case of leakage, electricity generated to run the equipment, and the potential end-of-life emissions, Zaremski further added.

Francesco Scuderi, Secretary General, Eurovent gave an overview of the EU F-Gas Regulation. The change in refrigerant usage is already visible, he said. HFC phase-down is a reality, and a return to past levels is unlikely, he further said. The challenges, Scuderi said, are mainly identified as the price of refrigerants, technologies being ‘F-Gas compliant’ and safety standards. Throughout Europe, associations such as AREA, EPEE and ASERCOM have issued publications to stop using R404A/R507A, and are getting ready for flammable refrigerants and raising awareness, he said. The main role of industry associations, like Eurovent, is to support policy makers, to participate in standardisation committees and to keep manufacturers on track, he said. The role for Eurovent, he said, also includes harmonising with the Middle East, where it advocates the global phase-down, in line with European policies.

The Conference called on refrigerant producers to help better classify and simplify the list of gases available in the market – especially alternative low-GWP ones. It also called on policy makers to tackle and end illegal trade in refrigerants. Energy efficiency has been proven to have a bigger impact on reducing global warming than the mere choice of which refrigerants to use, the key participants said. Therefore, the HVACR sector has the responsibility of improving and guaranteeing efficiency by adapting existing systems and designing future systems.

Didier Coulomb, Director General, IIR, expressed the need to sensitise public bodies and relevant institutions about the importance of increasing HVACR demand for special sectors, including health, CC, data centres and District Energy applications. Strategic frameworks, he said, should be developed for applied research and solutions. Emerging technologies, like solar, cryogenic and evaporative cooling must be encouraged and closely monitored in order to find sustainable solutions for all sectors, Coulomb said.

Marco Buoni, President, AREA, underlined the importance of continuous and improved technological innovation. He encouraging contractors to always be trained with up-to-date knowledge. He requested training institutes to update training material and curricula by following the pace and dynamics of technology development. At the same time, he said, the HVACR industry should play a key role in ensuring the accessibility of knowledge and information to different practitioners and end-users. Additionally, he said, specific certification for flammable refrigerants should be clearly regulated, promoted and enforced. Comprehensive refrigerant management systems, he added, are highly recommended to control markets with multiple refrigerants.

Ayman Eltalouny, International Partnerships Coordinator, UNEP, called for product placement into market policies and practices to be flexible, ensuring quick implementation of the rapidly updating standards, especially the safety-related ones. There is a need to improve policies and practices of curbing illegal refrigerant trade through different measures – for example, mechanisms between customs and environment authorities and established market surveillance programmes, he said. Governments need to upgrade their waste management policies, monitoring tools and registry systems to promote and manage 3Rs practices and investments, Eltalouny said. Governments ought to regularly collect market data, monitor trends, identify gaps and allow flexible implementation of regulations, while industry associations and groups can play a key role in continuous feedback and consultation, he said.

The 19th edition of the conference will take place in June 2021.

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