NEXT Series: Bans on HFCs in supermarkets begin in California

By Michael Garry, Jan 07, 2019, 16:46 2 minute reading

R404A and R507A are among the high-GWP refrigerants prohibited for a range of supermarket applications under the California Cooling Act, which adopted rolled-back EPA regulations.

California’s bans on high-GWP HFCs, based on regulations enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA) but rolled back at the national level last year, went into effect in the state on January 1 for a number of supermarket applications as part of the implementation of the California Cooling Act (Senate Bill 1013).

The prohibitions derive from the EPA’s Significant New Alternative Policy (SNAP) Program, Rules 20 and 21. Rule 20 was vacated last year as a result of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in August 2017 while Rule 21 may also be vacated.

For example, bans of R404A and R507A, among other refrigerants, took effect on January 1 for new and retrofit supermarket systems and remote condensing units; retrofit stand-alone units; new medium-temperature stand-alone units with a compressor capacity of less than 2,200 BTU/hr and not containing a flooded evaporator.

Starting in 2020, the high-GWP refrigerants will be banned in other applications. For example, on January 1, 2020, R404A and R507a will be prohibited for new medium-temperature stand-alone units with a compressor capacity of 2,200 BTU/hr or greater, and containing a flooded evaporator, as well as for all new low-temperature stand-alone units.

R404A, R507A and R134a, among other refrigerants, will be banned in new compact household refrigerators and freezers on January 1, 2021; the following year, they will be banned in new non-compact or built-in units.

On January 1, 2023, R404A and R507A, among other refrigerants will be banned in new cold-storage warehouse systems.

Under the new law, manufacturers cannot sell equipment or products that use prohibited HFCs manufactured after their respective prohibition dates.

In addition to prohibiting specific high-GWP HFCs, the California Cooling Act also establishes an incentive program for early adoption of low-GWP technology in refrigeration systems. In order for CARB to implement the program, the legislature must first allocate funding. Once funding has been allocated, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) can proceed with implementing the incentive program.

In March 2017, CARB officially adopted an SLCP (Short-Lived Climate Pollutant) Strategy, which includes limiting the use of high-GWP refrigerants. It contains prohibitions on refrigerants with a GWP of more than 150 for new stationary refrigeration and 750 for new stationary AC equipment holding two or more lbs of refrigerant, among other prohibitions. CARB expects to implement regulations on these measures in 2019.

Overall, under Senate Bill 1383, California is required to reduce HFC emissions 40% below 2013 levels by 2030.

Other states followed California’s lead in 2018, with Connecticut, Maryland and New York announcing plans to develop regulations that will phase out the use of HFC. All four states are part of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors from 16 states and Puerto Rico, which announced last June its commitment to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including HFCs.

The NEXT Series takes an annual look at the key market, policy and technology drivers likely to influence natural refrigerant uptake. For updates on these and other key policy developments over the course of the year, sign up to our newsletter.

By Michael Garry

Jan 07, 2019, 16:46

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