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APPLiA - F-gas plenary vote is a major setback for heat pumps in Europe

Date

30 Mar 2023

Sections

Energy

Brussels, 30 March 2023 - Today’s plenary vote narrowly backing the quick phaseout of F-gas refrigerants for some applications will significantly limit the number of heat pumps available in certain market segments, pushing consumers back to fossil fuels with severe consequences for health and the planet. Trilogue negotiations with the European Council are expected to begin in April and will be of critical importance in defining the definitive legislation on F-gas.

The biggest cuts are foreseen, in some cases, as early as 2026. This does not only clash with the EU’s climate ambitions, but also with the flagship REPowerEU plan which calls for the deployment of 60 million new heat pumps by 2030. Considered of critical importance for climate-neutral heating, heat pumps are also one of the net-zero technologies that will be instrumental to ramp up European production capacities for renewable energy technologies, according to the Net-Zero Industry Act presented by the European Commission earlier this month.  

With heat pumps at the centre of the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan to ditch fossil fuels, many European companies are already at the forefront of this development. The proposed bans translate into a sudden shift to natural refrigerants, for almost 30 thousand different models of equipment already present on the European market. Which involves “the adaptation of production processes, but also the training of installers, as well as considerations on the safety and overall energy efficiency of these solutions, with an impact on the affordability of products,” said Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA Director General. To address this, the Parliament added a requirement asking the Commission to “ensure that the F-gas phase-down does not endanger the RePowerEU heat pump deployment targets.” However, this cannot be a “conclusive solution.” A stable and reliable legislative framework is needed to allow for medium and long-term planning.

Today, the industry is already using alternative refrigerants for some applications, as part of its broader efforts and overarching commitment to offering solutions that can mitigate climate change and reduce carbon emissions. However, a full-fledged ban on F-gas would not be technically feasible for all applications as “it would leave the market with no possibility to meet all consumers’ demand for air conditioners,” explained Falcioni. A diversity of fluorinated and non-fluorinated solutions is needed to fit the wide variety of applications for both the EU and export markets. The sector is already investing in cleaner technologies using lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants and designing highly energy-efficient products that are good for the environment and for the wallet. Developing new products using new solutions requires finding real alternatives, striking a fair and secure balance for all.

APPLiA alongside 12 industry associations representing manufacturing, servicing, and installing heating, cooling, refrigeration, and foam insulation solutions, put forward a set of critical amendments which have been tabled during the plenary session by MEPs from 16 countries and across six political groups, and backed up by 249 out of 575 Members of the European Parliament. Trilogue negotiations with the European Council are now expected to begin in April and will be of critical importance in defining the definitive legislation on F-gas.

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