Updated German regulation to support natural refrigerants
The amended refrigeration and air conditioning directive, which entered into force on 1 January, will subsidise the installation of natural refrigerant-based systems in Germany.
The updated version of Germany’s refrigeration and air conditioning directive, which entered into force on 1 January, will subsidise the installation of refrigeration systems based on “non-halogenated and low-GWP refrigerants”.
Natural or non-halogenated refrigerants like CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbons (such as propane, isobutane and propene/propylene) are naturally occurring and do not need to be chemically synthesized.
The subsidy scheme seeks to reduce the energy consumption of refrigeration and air-conditioning systems and runs from 1 January 2017 until 1 January 2019.
Applicable throughout German territory, the scheme is open to companies, not-for-profit entities, schools, hospitals, and municipalities and other local authority bodies, among others.
The amended directive extends funding to partial retrofits in addition to new system installations and full retrofits or replacements. Applicants can hope to be awarded a maximum of 150,000 EUR per installation, calculated on the basis of installation type (new installation or full or partial retrofit), cooling capacity and the refrigerant used rather than system cost.
All new installations must use natural (non-halogenated) refrigerants, with the exception of small compression refrigeration units of 2-5 kW (which can use refrigerants whose GWP is below 750).
Systems that adopt halogenated refrigerants with a higher GWP than the previous installation or where the switch is from a non-halogenated to a halogenated refrigerant are ineligible for subsidies.
Installations cannot take place until the applicant has received the grant notification. Under the previous regime, installation could begin following submission of the funding request.
Applications received on or since 1 January 2017 will be evaluated on the basis of the new criteria.
The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) introduced the subsidy scheme in 2008 under the auspices of the National Climate Protection Initiative. The Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) operates it.
Four system types to receive funding
There are four asset categories eligible for basic funding:
- Small compression refrigeration and air conditioning systems with 2-5 kW electrical power consumption;
- Compression refrigeration and air conditioning systems with 5-300 kW electrical power consumption (except ammonia plants);
- Ammonia plants with electrical power consumption of 5-200 kW.
- Sorption systems with 5-500 kW cooling capacity.
To help promote energy efficiency, applicants qualify for a bonus if the new or updated systems include the following features:
- Heat accumulator with heat exchanger for waste heat utilisation of the refrigeration or air conditioning system;
- Heat pumps for storing waste heat from the refrigeration or air conditioning system.
- Cold store with heat exchanger.
- ‘Free cooling’ equipment with pipes, pumps, tank, measuring technology and, if necessary, additional heat exchanger.
‘Free cooling’ refers to the concept of harnessing cold from the surrounding environment to provide cooling without involving a mechanical process. It can be used to improve the efficiency of the mechanical refrigeration cycle or be harnessed as a stand-alone cooling method.
Subsidised installations must be independently monitored for a minimum of five years to ensure efficient operation.
The scheme has thus far proven successful in triggering wider uptake of natural refrigerant-based systems in Germany. In 2015, it subsidised 253 more efficient cooling and refrigeration systems to the tune of 17.7 million EUR, triggering investment of 93.5 million EUR. During the programme’s eight years of operation, it has supported 1,300 projects with subsidies totalling some 114 million EUR: triggering investment of 600 million EUR.