The Cooling Post is an independent online magazine dedicated to the global air conditioning, refrigeration and heat pump industry. Established in 2013 the Cooling Post is edited by Neil Everitt, a journalist who has been active in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry for the best part of 35 years.
EUROPE: With reports of subsiding demand, refrigerant prices continued to fall in Europe in the first quarter of this year.
While prices continue to be several times higher than before the start of the European F-gas phase-down, the latest quarterly price-monitoring report by Öko-Recherche charts price falls for R404A, R410A and R134a.
Prices dropped slightly for lower GWP alternatives, while service companies reported increases for high GWP refrigerants such as R407A and R452A.
This latest report received data from 69 companies from eleven EU Member States, although the main respondents were from France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
The development of purchase prices of the most commonly used HFC refrigerants at gas distributor level. Data presented include prices reported by three gas distributors. Prices are indexed to the baseline year 2014 (=100%).
Average purchase prices of the most commonly used refrigerants reported by service companies from France, Germany and Spainin Q4/2018 and Q1/2019.
ITALY: Mirco Cauz, the MD of Carel Central and Southern Europe, has been appointed regional CEO for the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa Region (EEMEA).
In this new regional organisation, the managing directors of Carel Russia, Carel Middle East, Alfaco Poland, Carel Ukraine, Carel South Africa and Carel Central and Southern Europe subsidiaries will all report to him.
Cauz will report directly to Carel CEO Francesco Nalini.
He is replaced as MD of Carel Central and Southern Europe by Marco Galluppi, formerly part of the team as business development manager for Turkey & West Asia.
UK: LG has widened the use of lower GWP refrigerant R32 with the introduction of a split version of its Therma V air-to-water heat pump.
Designed specifically for the new and housing renovation markets, the Therma V R32 Split uses advanced compressor technology and smart control.
The LG Therma V split has 100% capacity at temperatures as low as -7ºC. It boasts an SCOP of 4.65 in heating operation and an A+++ ErP rating, dependent on a return water temperature of 35ºC.
Designed with the knowledge that the compressor accounts for as much as 90 per cent of a system’s energy consumption, the R1 compressor is said to be the world’s first ‘shaft-through’ hybrid scroll-shaped compressor. It combines aspects of a scroll-type and rotary-type compressor to maximise effectiveness and efficiency. This is said to eliminates the tilting motion of the scroll, minimising energy waste and increasing overall reliability.
A greater operational range of 10-135Hz is another advantage of the compressor. It also enhances heating performance, ensuring reliable operation at a low ambient temperature of -25ºC.
The product is said to feature a number of enhancements that facilitate easier management. Chief among these is SmartThinQ, a smartphone app that lets users monitor and control the solution remotely. Providing access to the majority of system options, the app makes it possible to select or change mode, set the temperature, and monitor energy consumption. It even enables users to ‘pre-heat’ a room.
UK: British manufacturerAiredale has launched a new range of air conditioning chillers optimised for use with lower GWP refrigerant R32.
The Azure range, which has been under development for almost two years at Airedale’s state-of-the-art research and development facility in Leeds, has been optimised to operate at the same high level of output and efficiency as existing Airedale products.
Anthony Cole, managing director at Airedale International said: “R32 is not a drop-in replacement for the likes of R410A so a lot of development work has gone into this range, both at Airedale International and with our supply chain partners. The Azure range complements the work we are doing with other low GWP refrigerants such as R513A and R1234ze and we will continue to invest in this area, with the ultimate aim being all our products utilising zero GWP gases.”
The first products to be launched from the new Azure range will be the Ultima R32 compact 30-150kW chiller and the DeltaChill 110-1000kW R32 chiller. Additional items, including precision cooling units, are expected to follow in the coming months.
The Ultima R32 is a high efficiency, compact, air-cooled single/dual circuit chiller. Optimised for R32 refrigerant and now operational with an increased supply water temperature of up to 18°C, the Ultima R32 has been engineered to increase efficiency and deliver improved performance.
Developed with low sound levels, it is available with an extensive range of hydronic options seamlessly designed within the unit to reduce installation time, footprint and operating costs.
The DeltaChill R32 air-cooled chiller is available with up to 1000kW of cooling. It combines scroll compressors and the latest fan technology applied in a modular V-frame coil design, with microchannel heat exchangers.
With 282 models, unit selection can be optimised for efficiency or footprint. The free-cool functionality offers significantly reduced running costs and carbon footprint.
USA/FRANCE: A leading French contractor, Axima Refrigeration France, is to partner with refrigerant manufacturer Chemours to evaluate the use and future adoption of Chemours low GWP Opteon XL refrigerants.
Part of the Engie group, Axima Refrigeration France has already adopted Opteon XP40 (R449A) for retrofitting existing R404A systems, and is now said to be looking at long-term solutions with low environmental impact while ensuring performance, safety, reliability, and cost efficiency.
The collaboration between Chemours and Axima Refrigeration France commits both companies to jointly investigate the use of A2L refrigerants in commercial refrigeration and support the transition by performing trials and developing case studies, as well as best practices they will be jointly delivering through training.
The recent adoption of Opteon XP40 (R449A) by Axima Refrigeration France is seen as the first step towards this transition and enables the company to ensure its customers business continuity.
Opteon XP40 has a GWP of 1397 which is nearly three times lower than R404A. A blend of R32 (24.3%), R125 (24.7%), R1234yf (25.3%) and R134a (25.7%), it is said to closely match the properties and performance to R404A.
“Our two companies share the same objective to help the commercial refrigeration market prepare for the 2021 HFC phase down that will reduce the available CO2 quota by 55%,” said Chemours Fluorochemicals vice president Diego Boeri. “Axima’s strategy to select refrigerants below 1500 GWP such as Opteon XP40 for retrofits, and below 150 GWP such as Opteon XL for new equipment, demonstrates the key role that Opteon plays today and in the future to meet the needs of the commercial refrigeration sector,” he added.
Chemours offers five Opteon XL refrigerants, all of which are A2L, non-toxic but exhibiting slight flammability. Only two are below the 150 GWP threshold – Opteon XL10 and Opteon XL20.
Opteon XL10 (R1234yf), is a replacement for R134a in new equipment designs. It has a GWP of 4. Opteon XL20 (R454C), is a blend of R32 and 1234yf. It has a GWP of 148 and is a replacement for R404A and R22 in new equipment designs.
“Axima Refrigeration is engaged for over 20 years now in developing innovative and more sustainable refrigeration systems to comply with its refrigerant policy, and its societal and environmental responsibilities,” said Axima Refrigeration France CEO Laurent Meykuchel. “With our ILICO2 program promoting the use of energy efficient refrigerants with GWP Gases less than 150 like Opteon XL, Axima refrigeration fully aligns with the global strategy of Engie that is to drive the market towards a zero carbon transition.”
UK: Global heat pump sales fell by 3.3% in volume terms last year, after a record year in 2017.
The latest report from UK market intelligence company BSRIA records sales of just over 3,000,000 units in 2018.
According to Aline Breslauer, BSRIA’s senior market intelligence analyst, the market suffered last year from the slowing economy in China. “The recent US-China trade war has put more pressure on the local economic expansion, leading to rising prices on raw materials and a slower new residential construction market. The environmental measures to reduce CO2 emissions have kept supporting the heat pump market although the competition from gas boiler is increasing in the country.”
Sales in Europe were up 12.9% in 2018 to almost 650,000 units – a sales value of €5.1bn.
Air-source units maintained strong growth rates and splits systems increased at the fastest pace: +19.1% by volume followed by monobloc (+18.2%). Air-source hot water heat pumps were also on the rise, mostly driven by the demand from the French market.
Heat pump sales in Europe are being driven by the Building Regulation Directive, which has the objective of limiting the average energy consumption in most new buildings. Sales are primarily being driven by residential buildings applications.
Suppliers in the Netherlands recorded high growth in terms of volume (+62.8%) followed by the Ireland (+47.0%) and the UK (+19.7%).
EUROPE: The European Commission says it is to seek discussions with other non-EU countries, including China, in an effort to stem the tide of illegal refrigerant.
The commission also says it is requesting member states to investigate cases of illegal trade and to impose effective penalties.
Replying to a written question from German MEP Jo Leinen, Arias Cañete, commissioner for Climate Action & Energy, insisted that the commission is monitoring the issue of illegal imports of HFCs into the EU and is taking measures to ensure the correct implementation of the F-gas regulation.
“The commission will also discuss with international partners, including China, on ways to cooperate on this issue,” he said.
Burgeoning illegal trade
In a question tabled on April 16, Jo Leinen claimed that the “burgeoning” illegal trade in refrigerants, particularly from Asia, was jeopardising the goals of the F-gas regulation. He asked what measures the commission could take to reach out to member states where the illicit trade in refrigerants primarily takes place, and whether it was cooperating with national authorities and seeking to better enforce customs checks? He also asked whether it would seek to work with its Asian counterparts to identify and track exports of refrigerants destined for the EU market?
In his reply, today, Arias Cañete said: “The commission requests member states to investigate possible cases of illegal trade and to impose effective penalties where needed.” He also confirmed that it would take the necessary measures including, where appropriate, infringement procedures, in cases of non-conformity with EU law.
He said the commission had also asked member states for their assistance in comparing customs’ data with data reported under the regulation in an effort to identify possible offenders. Guidance was also being provided too customs authorities on how enforce the regulation and says it is facilitating the sharing of best practices across the EU.
“The Commission is also setting up an IT application for member states customs authorities by 2020 that will facilitate identification of potential illegal trade cases (within the Single Window environment for customs initiative),” Cañete said. “In addition, customs authorities are starting a project under the EU-funded programme, Customs 2020, to share experience and develop best practices on how customs can stop illegal HFC trade; the Commission is supporting and participating in this initiative.”
In response to earlier questions from the Cooling Post, a spokesperson confirmed that the commission was concerned about the enforcement and the global integrity of the HFC phase-down regime and is doing its utmost to tackle illegal trade. “We are following developments closely,” it said.
“In this vein, the commission is working with national customs authorities to strengthen enforcement at the EU’s external borders and is providing support to national environmental authorities with respect to quota management and to improve identification of different types of HFC gases at the border,” the spokesperson added.
UK: Panasonic has introduced the Big PACi series of air conditioners in 20kW and 25kW capacities using R32 refrigerant.
The additions include a water heat exchanger option and a split-able duct indoor unit which can be divided into the heat exchanger and fan parts, allowing for easier installation within narrow spaces such as small retail shops.
As well as being more efficient than its R410A counterparts, the R32 Big PACi series offers a reduced refrigerant charge. The indoor unit is also up to 16kg lighter in weight than conventional Big PACi R410 models.
Designed for easy installation, the new models are said to have a more compact indoor chassis with the depth reduced by 230mm versus the conventional Big PACi R410A range. The compact design is said to still maintain the same level of efficiency overall and has an SEER rating of up to 5.25 and SCOP rating of 3.61.
UK: Environmental group the EIA has called on the UK to move ahead of the European F-gas regulations and bring forward sectoral bans for certain HFCs in new equipment.
In light of last month’s UK government announcement to become the first major economy to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050, the EIA comments: “Reducing emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning further, and faster than the EU’s F-gas regulation requires, is a critical and viable policy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” it says.
The environmental group also proposes a ban on all HFCs in new air conditioning units containing less than 3kg and a re-evaluation of the UK government’s renewable heat incentive.
The EIA’s comments follow this week’s criticism of the UK government by the Committee on Climate Change for failing to publish a plan to restrict the use of F-gases to uses where there are currently no viable alternatives.
Claiming that the UK has an opportunity to move ahead of the F-gas regulations, the EIA calls for the sectoral bans to be moved forward, “especially for commercial refrigeration where myriad alternatives exist and have been widely rolled out in the UK”.
“Bringing forward the 2022 bans on HFCs in new commercial refrigeration would have a huge impact on the overall emissions from supermarkets,” it says.
The EIA also calls for the ban on HFCs with GWP of 750 or more in new air conditioning units containing less than 3kg to be brought forward from the current proposed date of 2025 and extended to all HFCs to “avoid locking in climate-damaging equipment”.
Heat pumps and the renewable heat incentive are also targeted. “The UK must re-evaluate the renewable heat incentive to ensure it is not subsidising the uptake of heat pumps using HFCs and to ensure it incentivises only the adoption of technologies using low GWP alternatives, in line with the F-gas regulation.
“Natural refrigerant alternatives are available for most types of heat pumps and greatly improve the already green credentials of this heating source,” the EIA insists.
“If the UK wants to be a green leader, it must follow through on its net-zero ambition with concrete plans to drastically reduce emissions in the near-term. Fast action on eliminating the powerful greenhouse gases used in the cooling sector would set the UK on the right path,” said EIA climate campaigner Sophie Geoghegan.
SWEDEN: Growth in its OEM and HVAC business, especially in Europe, was a major factor behind a 14% sales increase reported by Beijer Ref in the second quarter.
Following a 32% rise reported by the refrigeration wholesaler in the first quarter of 2019, sales in the second quarter reached SEK3,996m (€378m). Operating profit for the quarter was also up 8% to SEK373m (€35m).
“One of the main features of the quarter is that our OEM and HVAC segments are moving forward strongly, especially in Europe,” commented CEO Per Bertland.
In total, sales of its OEM segment grew by 32% during the period, accounting for 10% of the group’s sales. HVAC sales did even better, increasing by 37% to command 41% of the group’s sales.
“The warm summers of recent years in Europe have contributed to an increased interest in heat pumps, since these are also used for air conditioning. This, combined with a generally high demand, contributes to the strong development of the HVAC segment. Long-term partnerships with strong brands, such as Toshiba, Carrier and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, give us a good market position,” Bertland said.
All of Beijer Ref’s geographical regions showed growth apart from Eastern Europe, which is said to have been most affected by the price trend for refrigerants. While volatility in refrigerant prices has had an impact on comparisons with 2018, the importance for the group of the price trend for refrigerants is said to be declining.
“The quarter has tough comparative figures, since 2018 was a year when the price of refrigerants was at a historically high level,” said Bertland. “From autumn 2018 and during the first half of 2019, prices have gradually fallen, which affects the commercial refrigeration segment negatively, although volume sales did not decline at the same rate. The decline in sales is well offset by the growth of other segments, which means that the importance for the group of the price trend for refrigerants is declining. The assessment is that the price of refrigerants will stabilise during the autumn. The phasing-out period runs until 2030, with the next major reduction in import quotas in 2021.”