The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), a California-based nonprofit, has announced its appointment as the third-party administrator for the California Air Resources Board (CARB)’s F-gas Reduction Incentive Program (FRIP). 

The program aims to reduce the state’s f-gas emissions by incentivizing the adoption of climate-friendly refrigeration technologies with a focus on refrigerants with a GWP of less than 10, such as CO2 (R744), propane (R290) and ammonia (R717). 

As FRIP’s third-party administrator, NASRC will be responsible for distributing $65 million (€60.5 million) in funding.

The nonprofit and its subcontractors will also support the program’s implementation through stakeholder engagement, technical guidance, information sharing and workforce development. 

“We’re honored to take on this important role and committed to the continued success of this groundbreaking program,” said Danielle Wright, Executive Director of the NASRC. “Not only will FRIP support businesses across the state to transition to future-proof refrigerants, but it will also serve as a blueprint for other states to follow.”

The NASRC was founded in 2015 and works to advance climate-friendly natural refrigerants with a focus on supermarkets.

“Not only will FRIP support businesses across the state to transition to future-proof refrigerants, but it will also serve as a blueprint for other states to follow.”

Danielle Wright, NASRC

Impactful climate mitigation strategy

Launched in 2020, the FRIP initially provided $1 million (€930,000) in funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) to support the installation of low-GWP refrigeration equipment in the food retail sector. In 2016, California passed a bill mandating the reduction of HFCs by 40% below 2013 levels by 2030.

With this funding, CARB supported 15 installations across the state – four of which were store remodels, while the remaining 11 were at new premises. The majority of the funded projects used CO2-based technologies.

The NASRC played a fundamental role in the first distribution of FRIP funding via its Aggregated Incentives Program, which it said secured $880,000 (€819,000) out of the $1 million available.

To date, the FRIP has proven to be one of the most impactful and cost-effective programs administered by CARB, costing just $27 (€25.1) per metric ton of CO2e saved, according to the California Climate Investments’ 2023 Annual Report. In comparison, California’s Urban Greening and Community Solar programs cost $2,614 (€2,433) and $204 (€189), respectively, for every metric ton of CO2e mitigated.

Now, with the additional $65 million in funding from the state’s 2022–23 and 2023–24 budgets, FRIP aims to “drastically accelerate” California’s transition to climate-friendly refrigerants in support of its climate targets.

“HFC refrigerants are potent climate pollutants, and addressing them is one of the leading global climate solutions,” said the NASRC. “However, upfront costs are a significant barrier to transitioning to climate-friendly refrigerants, especially for small and independent businesses and businesses operating in disadvantaged communities. These funds will help eliminate that barrier.”

The NASRC said it will seek public feedback on the program design and announce opportunities for public input in early 2024. Program eligibility and application dates will follow.

“Upfront costs are a significant barrier to transitioning to climate-friendly refrigerants, especially for small and independent businesses and businesses operating in disadvantaged communities. These funds will help eliminate that barrier.”

NASRC

Beyond California

According to Wright, the NASRC has plans to expand FRIP nationwide via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG), funded by the Inflation Reduction Act.

The CPRG program is offering $5 billion (€4.6 billion) in grants to states, local governments, tribes and territories to develop and implement ambitious plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollution. 

“We are working to support states in applying for this funding to develop [programs] based on the FRIP model,” she told R744.com. “Not only is FRIP incredibly cost effective, but it results in important co-benefits such as food security, equitable transition, support for small businesses, workforce development and energy savings.”