UNDP backing green HVAC&R technologies
To help countries phase down HCFCs, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), one of United Nations‘ investment implementing agencies works towards facilitating technology changes in recipient companies. “For the moment, we engage with companies to commit to reducing the use of mostly HCFCs – and tomorrow HFCs,” says UNDP’s Etienne Gonin, programme analyst (Europe/CIS, Arab states and Africa), Montreal Protocol and Chemicals Unit.
UNDP advocates for energy efficient solutions that fight global warming. Which is where natural refrigerants come in, although as a UN agency, UNDP must remain technology neutral. “Everything is an option for developing countries that is allowed by the Montreal Protocol. Obviously natural refrigerants are part of the solution, but we’re not ruling out other acceptable low-GWP alternatives,” says Gonin.
“When companies want to implement technology changes, the way to access [the] funds available through the UN is through national governments, specifically through National Ozone Units, generally under the Ministry of Environment of the countries,” says Selimcan Azizoglu, a project manager at the UNDP who works for regional projects in Europe, Central Asia and Africa related to the HCFC phaseout. He coordinates project implementation at regional level, providing support to developing countries in the areas of policy, technology conversion, capacity building and regional cooperation.
One example of a preparatory UNDP project to phase down HFCs is in Zimbabwe, where a company called Capri, a manufacturer of refrigerators and chest freezers, is considering converting its domestic refrigerator line from R134a to natural refrigerant R600a (isobutane). Another is for Bangladesh, to convert compressor production lines from R134a to R600a at Walton Hi-Tech Industries. Other examples of UNDP-backed projects include the ammonia air-conditioning chillers in Tashkent’s biggest hospital (from R22) and a transcritical CO2 supermarket in Chile.
“If you’re a company in this field, you have opportunities for changing your technologies. However, there are some limitations for supply – particularly in Africa,” Gonin remarks.
UNDP funded a demonstration project in Nigeria on how to produce high-grade hydrocarbon refrigerants. “Now we need to scale it up to actually make hydrocarbons available in the market, particularly in African markets,” says Gonin. As it is still a relatively new technology, it is difficult to find hydrocarbon-based air conditioning units in Africa. “There is a strong demand and interest from African countries for this technology,” Gonin says.
“Demand is there, political support is there. It’s mostly difficult to make it happen logistically, practically,” says Gonin. “It’s all about setting up the supply chain to some African countries.”
Another important role that UNDP plays in the HVAC&R sector is to reach out to refrigeration associations and hold training, particularly, to achieve technician certification and promote recycling. “We aim to strengthen refrigeration associations through bilateral exchanges but this is not developed enough in some countries,” notes Azizoglu. Training is a major subject for UNDP worldwide.
“We use training institutes for all key natural refrigerants. We had two trainings last year in Germany, with the participation of technicians from Belarus, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine (countries for the project he is managing),” says Azizoglu. “It was good for these countries to see a great example for themselves.”
See the booklet ‘Past Successes and Future Opportunities: Case Studies from the UNDP Portfolio and Innovative Approaches to Cooling without Warming’ outlining the UNDP’s work in protecting the ozone layer, advancing sustainable cooling solutions and tacking climate change.