The NASRC held a natural refrigerants seminar focused on both the barriers and case studies of successful projects. The seminar was held in two half-day sessions on July 17th, 2017, at the DC Engineering offices in Meridian near Boise, Idaho. Over thirty representatives from the supermarket refrigeration industry attended, including retailers, such as Albertsons and Whole Foods, as well as contractors, consultants, utilities and local state agencies.
Attendees received an overview of the environmental impacts of supermarket refrigeration, which are largely due to refrigerant leaks. Keilly Witman, formerly of the EPA GreenChill Partnership, presented and the policies and regulations that have been put in place by the government to mitigate these impacts.
Government regulations are just one of many hurdles that supermarkets face when considering natural refrigerant systems and equipment. Danielle Wright, Executive Director of NASRC, provided an overview of the primary barriers such as first costs, availability of service and codes and standards. These are hurdles that NASRC is taking action to overcome.
Case studies were presented by DC Engineering and CTA Group. The projects featured various types of system architectures including CO2 transcritical, CO2/Ammonia cascade and CO2/propane cascade systems. Additionally, a small format store with CO2 transcritical with integrated HVAC for both cooling and heat reclaim. The presentations focused on the energy impacts, design considerations and lessons learned from each project.
Attendees also had the opportunity to view a live demonstration of a transcritical CO2 system provided by Danfoss mobile CO2 training unit. Danfoss also provided a series of 2-day hands-on trainings targeted to service technicians and contractors.
To learn more about hosting a natural refrigerants seminar in your area, please contact NASRC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the wake of the recent decision by the US Federal Appeals Court that questions the EPA's power to regulate non-ozone depleting refrigerants, supermarket retailers are questioning how to move forward. Will the SNAP program have the power to approve refrigerants? Should they continue to plan to replace refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP)? To answer these questions, supermarkets should look to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
Almost 30 years since it's signing, the Montreal Protocol is considered one of the most successful international treaties of all time. It has effectively eliminated the production of harmful ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and is in the process of eliminating the production of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) refrigerants. However, this phase-out has effectively traded one environmental disaster for another, as the replacement refrigerants, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), cause global warming.
In 2016, the Kigali Amendment updated the Montreal Protocol to gain global commitment to the phasedown of HFCs. Developed countries, like the United States, will be required to begin reducing HFC production and import of HFCs in 2019. This reduction is expected to correlate to increased HFC prices, especially those with high GWP.
"We continue to believe that now, as always, the strongest case for natural refrigerants is the business case," said Danielle Wright, Executive Director of NASRC. " It would be an unsound business decision to invest in HFCs for new equipment or retrofits when there are so many low GWP or zero GWP options available."
The Kigali Amendment also sets limits on the carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for several major corporations, including chemical manufacturers. These limits are expected to drive an increase in their manufacture of low-GWP refrigerants and a respective decrease in their manufactured volume of high-GWP refrigerants. Europe has already experienced a price increase of high-GWP refrigerants due to the accelerated phasedown of HFCs by the EU’s F-gas regulations.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the US Appeals Court decision was not supported by the two largest US refrigerant manufacturers, Chemours and Honeywell. These companies are currently considering pursuing an appeal to have the entire DC Appeals Court hear their case. These companies’ support of low-GWP refrigerants is another strong indicator of the inevitable phasedown of high GWP refrigerants.
While the Appeal Court decision may temporarily slow the phasedown of high GWP refrigerants, the Kigali Amendment will provide the economic drivers that will ultimately move the market towards low and zero GWP refrigerants. Supermarkets should act now to get ahead of what will surely be an expensive transition.
To learn more about the latest updates to policy and regulations for refrigerants, NASRC members are welcome join the next Quarterly Policy Webinar on August 23rd at 11AM PDT, register here.
By Danielle Wright, NASRC Executive Director, and Keilly Witman, NASRC's Policy Expert
Retailers are experiencing the painful transition from R-22 as prices have doubled, or even tripled, with no end in sight. The question retailers need to consider next is whether the commitments made by the United States under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol will drive similar price increases for R-404A and R-407A.
The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal protocol, adopted in 2016, mandates the phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The amendment establishes a timetable for all developed and developing countries to freeze and then reduce production and use of HFCs. To meet its target, the United States will need to reduce HFC use by 40% by 2024.
The HFC phasedown will be implemented through EPA production allocations for chemical manufacturers in a way that is similar to the way the R-22 phase-out was implemented. Each chemical manufacturer will be awarded a maximum amount of carbon dioxide equivalent that they will be allowed to manufacture each year, and e each chemical manufacturer will develop its own strategy on how to translate that carbon dioxide equivalent into HFC production. For instance, a chemical manufacturer that is allocated 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent, can choose to manufacture approximately 25 pounds of R-404A, or they can choose to manufacture about 70 pounds of their patented HFO blend.
This will drive the chemical manufacturers to invest their allocation towards the more profitable HFO blends, rather than the lower-priced high GWP HFCs, such as R-404A and R-407A. If you had the choice to sell 70 pounds of a patented HFO blend at $20 per pound or 25 pounds of R-404A at $10 per pound, which choice would you make?
With reduced supply of high GWP HFCs and the very high demand for those HFCs for supermarket refrigeration systems, the price of those high GWP HFCs will go up. Eventually, the current price premium of the HFO blends will disappear, which makes the HFO blends even more attractive.
The European market, another leading indicator for what might happen in the U.S., is accelerating the phasedown of HFCs well ahead of the Kigali Amendment schedule. HFC prices have already begun to increase due to the reduction in supply. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), one major producer has increased the price of R-404a by over 60% in the first quarter of 2017.
The potential price increase of high GWP HFCs is just another challenge added to the list of hurdles that supermarket retailers face when it comes to refrigerant management. Natural refrigerants are the ideal solution, as they “future-proof” your business against future phase-outs and phasedowns. They are also insulated from refrigerant price volatility driven by chemical manufacturer production levels.
Natural refrigerants have their own hurdles when it comes to technology costs, service technician availability, and the lack of codes and standards. Now is the time to focus on overcoming these hurdles, so that retailers can avoid the uncertainty and cost of multiple refrigerant change-outs. How can you take action? Join one of NASRC’s progress groups and contribute to the real change today.
Boise residents will have an exclusive opportunity to learn about natural refrigerants and receive in-depth training on a CO2 transcritical system. Danfoss has scheduled their CO2 Mobile Unit to stop in Boise, as one of two locations in the United States, before continuing on its world tour.
NASRC will hold a Natural Refrigerant Seminar featuring two half-day sessions to provide an overview of natural refrigerants, the benefits and challenges, and see a live CO2 transcritical system. Attendees will include end users, contractors, educations, local government and utility representatives.
The seminar will be hosted by DC Engineering in partnership with NASRC, KW Refrigerant Management Strategy, CTA Group and Danfoss. A social event will follow the final session and is open to all attendees.
Session 1: 9am – 12pm – for government and educators
Session 2: 1pm – 4pm – for end-user and utilities
Social event: 4 – 6pm, open to all
The Danfoss CO2 Mobile Training Unit team will be also offering three 2-day training sessions designed to provide hands-on experience for retailers, system builders and installers and service technicians. Sessions are expected to fill up quickly as space is limited to 12 participants per session.
Training Session 1 – July 11-12, 9am – 4pm
Training Session 2 – July 13-14, 9am – 4pm
Training Session 3 – July 18-19, 9am – 4pm