40% of retailers unaware of HFC phase down

40% of retailers unaware of HFC phase down

Just two months before next year’s major cut in HFC refrigerants, a survey of European retailers has revealed that 40% are not fully aware of the regulatory changes.

Despite huge increases in refrigerant prices and next year’s widely publicised 37% cut in HFC availability under the F-gas regulations, a survey by Emerson reveals that 40% of purchasing decision-makers in the retail sector are unaware of the phase-down of HFCs. Nearly half (44%) of the respondents said they either hadn’t started to make the shift, or were unsure.

The survey conducted by international polling company ComRes asked 140 professionals in the retail sector to comment on their preparedness for and awareness of more sustainable technologies, and the primary challenges associated with the shift away from HFCs.

The online poll in August included 40 participants in France, 50 in Germany, and 50 in the UK.

Most respondents (81%) said they viewed the shift away from HFCs as a positive change. However, the survey also showed the retail industry was lagging behind schedule due to a lack of clarity in regulatory changes and replacement technologies available.

Where retailers have started to phase-down HFCs, notable priorities for selecting replacement refrigeration systems included safety (57%), energy efficiency (53%) and environmental sustainability (48%).

Speaking about the survey findings, Eric Winandy, director of integrated solutions, Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions said: “European retailers are enthusiastic about the transition to low GWP refrigerants, but it is concerning that there is still a lack of understanding of the upcoming regulatory changes. It was also surprising that capital and operational cost doesn’t rank as a key driver for retailers identifying replacement systems, as industry analysis shows there could be big maintenance liabilities associated.”

Among the three primary alternative options available, carbon dioxide (CO2) technology was most commonly ranked as the preferred choice for replacing HFC systems at 38%.

Despite being the most popular choice however, Emerson maintains that industry analysis shows CO2 systems could cost a medium-sized retailer as much as €51,000 more per store compared to hydrocarbon integral systems over a 10 year period. The company, which is best known as the manufacturer of Copeland compressors, also insists that while CO2 is a significant improvement over HFCs in terms of GWP, it is found to have lower energy efficiency performance and higher maintenance requirements than other alternatives.

The survey also shed some light on the challenges and opportunities for making the transition away from HFCs.

Challenges identified included operational expenditure and installation disruption which drew significant scores of 43% and 33% respectively. Yet, interestingly, cost alone was not identified as the main priority for selecting a new refrigeration system. The survey highlighted the desirability of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, with energy efficiency scoring 48% and environmental sustainability 39%.

When asked what would encourage respondents to accelerate the replacement of HFC refrigeration systems with lower global warming potential options, depreciation schemes or other tax rebates were the most popular (43%), followed by finding less expensive low GWP options (40%).