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California’s HFC Phase-down: Costs, Energy, Leaks and Incentives

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

As Jennifer Butsch and I discussed in our most recent E360 Webinar, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has adopted the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) regulations 20 and 21. ACHR NEWS, which attended our webinar and CARB’s most recent public stakeholder meeting, has compiled a report on the implications of CARB’s hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phase-down efforts. Below is a synopsis of their article, which you can read here in its entirety.

California’s HFC Phase-down: Costs, Energy, Leaks and Incentives

In early March, CARB held its first of several public technical working group meetings of the year. While the focus of this workshop was on stationary AC equipment, the scope of the issues discussed also extended to matters impacting commercial refrigeration. The purpose of these meetings is to gain insights into the many questions surrounding the implementation of its current and future regulations governing the state’s HFC phase-down. In this session, CARB posed several questions related to equipment costs, refrigerant leaks, the intersection with energy efficiency regulations and incentives for making the transition to lower-GWP refrigerants. And while these questions were targeted to California stakeholders, their relevance extends to the larger United States, where it is estimated that a federal mechanism to phase down HFCs will eventually be reinstated.

First costs, installation and maintenance

As we discussed in our most recent webinar, the commercial refrigeration sector is where the industry will continue to experience a proliferation of refrigeration systems. But this presents a series of challenges for OEMs and component manufacturers as we attempt to balance refrigerant GWP limits with economic viability — with hopes to minimize first costs, install costs and long-term service expenses of new equipment.

Opinions about cost considerations varied at the CARB meeting, though attendees generally agreed that first costs on AC equipment could range from 5 to 15 percent in various categories of equipment. CARB estimated that install and maintenance costs could increase anywhere from 5 to 10 percent, especially considering the need for additional contractor and technician training and tools to work with lower-GWP refrigerants such as A2Ls.

Factoring energy into the equation

For OEMs, meeting CARB’s GWP limits is only one of the regulatory milestones they will face in the next few years. The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) new energy efficiency requirements are scheduled for 2023, which means OEMs need to factor both energy-related equipment upgrades and the refrigerant transition into their design cycles. This was another topic of debate at the CARB meeting.

CARB members suggested that OEMs could try to offset upgrade expenses and achieve economies of scale by combining design cycles. Representatives from the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) took the position that these upgrades would require separate efforts. To help CARB understand the implications of these scenarios, AHRI cited survey data in which its members considered the costs of efficiency upgrades before addressing required refrigeration changes.

Leak reduction and prevention

Meeting attendees reached a consensus when discussing the problem of refrigerant leaks. As an AHRI representative pointed out: none of California’s GWP targets will be attainable if the industry can’t figure out this critical issue. They cited a UN Environmental Program report that estimated up to 60 percent of GWP sources from HVACR equipment can be traced to leaks.

And as we reported in our recent webinar, supermarkets that in the EPA’s GreenChill program have achieved drastically reduced leak rates, sometimes more than 50 percent. It’s also a reminder that as California and the rest of country continue their transitions to lower-GWP refrigerant alternatives, proper reclamation, recycling and disposal of HFCs will be extremely important.

Incentivizing participation

When the California Senate Bill No. 1013 (aka the California Cooling Act) was passed in 2018, it included an incentive mechanism via the Fluorinated Gases Emission Reduction Incentive Program. To date, this program has remained unfunded in the 2019 budget, although there still is yet a possibility for budget adjustments this year.

As was noted in the article, California’s tradition of incentives has helped create momentum to move the state toward lower-GWP refrigerants, systems with lower leak rates and better recordkeeping. Regardless, early adopters of climate-friendly cooling will have a variety of options from which to choose for new low-GWP systems, retrofits and upgrades.

What’s next?

CARB has stated that it will hold further stakeholder meetings this year, including a workshop focused on commercial refrigeration at the end of May. These meetings will conclude with a draft of the proposed new rulemaking along with continued economic analysis. As the industry awaits an update from the EPA on HFC-related regulations, California continues to be the country’s torchbearer for low-GWP refrigeration and cooling systems. As I was quoted in the article, our industry still has a lot of learning to do in the next four or five years, as the refrigerant transition will continue to drive equipment changes.

 

Refrigerant Rulemaking in 2019

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

While the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants is underway globally, federal regulatory uncertainty and state-level actions in the U.S. continue to raise many questions in our industry. Our latest E360 Webinar presented the latest developments in this dynamic area in hopes of clearing up some of the confusion. View the webinar in its entirety.

Along with my Emerson colleague, Jennifer Butsch, regulatory affairs manager of air conditioning, I recently presented the latest information on refrigerant regulations and rulemaking. The primary objective of these activities is to reduce the use of HFC refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP), and at the same time, introduce lower-GWP alternatives. For those of us in the commercial refrigeration and AC industries, this transition impacts many of our most common applications.

Here’s a summary of our discussion.

Kigali Amendment takes effect

To put these matters into their proper context, it’s important first to understand the global regulatory driver of the HFC phase-down, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This proposal was agreed upon at a meeting of 197 countries in 2016, and has since been ratified into law by more than 65 countries, including European members, Canada and Mexico.

While the U.S. has yet to ratify the Kigali Amendment, its phase-down guidelines went into effect for participating countries as of Jan. 1, 2019. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean its impacts are not being felt in the U.S., particularly in state-level initiatives to meet environmental targets.

California adopts SNAP rules, plans further reductions

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SNAP Rule 20 has been vacated and Rule 21 remains in litigation, California has adopted these rules into law. Effective Jan. 1, R-404A and R-507A are not allowable in many commercial refrigeration applications, including: supermarket central systems, remote condensing units and stand-alone systems. Essentially, this upholds previous SNAP 20 rulemaking and prevents operators in the state from using high-GWP HFCs. But this is just the first of many steps.

California is also adhering to the longer-term HFC phase-down schedule for commercial refrigeration and AC as outlined in SNAP Rules 20 and 21. In addition, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been tasked with reducing HFC emissions 40 percent by 2030 from the state’s 2013 baseline level — a target that’s very much in alignment with the Kigali Amendment’s HFC phase-down recommendations for the United States.

Achieving these levels will require new rulemaking in accordance with CARB’s short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) reduction strategy. CARB is planning on releasing a final rule toward the end of this year. In the meantime, they will conduct a series of public meetings for both AC and commercial refrigeration stakeholders. Emerson strongly encourages you to participate in these meetings to make sure your questions and concerns are addressed.

Other states join the charge

While California appears to be taking the lead on domestic HFC phase-down efforts, there are also many other states making commitments to climate change initiatives, including the reduction of HFCs.

The U.S. Climate Alliance now includes 21 states; combined they make up 49 percent of the U.S. population and 50 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). We believe that it is in our industry’s best interest for these states to follow a united course of action, rather than a patchwork of individual state mandates.

Other key webinar takeaways

Jennifer and I also discussed many other important developments pertaining to the use of lower-GWP alternatives, including:

  • Applications, availability and GWP ratings of A1, A2L, A3, B2L and natural alternatives
  • Update on refrigerant safety standards of A2L and A3 (flammable) refrigerants
  • How refrigerant standards affect equipment, applications, building codes and local codes
  • Lower-GWP refrigerant impacts on refrigeration architectures

To learn more about these topics, please view this webinar in its entirety.  

Connected Kitchens Require Clear Project Scoping and Definition

Paul_Hepperla Paul Hepperla | Vice President, Solutions Integration – Foodservice

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently presented an E360 Webinar that discussed “The Risks and Rewards of Connecting Commercial Kitchens;” this blog is a commentary on aspects of that discussion. Click here to view this session.

According to the Gartner Hype Cycle, the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) is one that’s full of promise and currently resides in their “peak of inflated expectations” stage. By their estimations, there will be 20 billion connected devices by 2020, and IoT will achieve mainstream adoption nationwide within 5–10 years. Today, however, only 26 percent of U.S. companies are successful with their IoT initiatives; 60 percent believe that while IoT looks good on paper, implementing it is more complex than expected.

In a recent E360 Webinar titled, The Risks and Rewards of Connecting Commercial Kitchens, I explored the current state of IoT in the foodservice sector from both equipment manufacturer and end user perspectives. While many companies are participating in field trials to test the potential business applications of IoT, the majority of these efforts are taking place without a defined strategy or comprehensive understanding of how IoT may fundamentally change their respective business.

From my experience, I’ve found that this lack of direction is the culprit behind most unsuccessful IoT initiatives. Remedying this problem is often as easy as answering a simple question: “What problem are we trying to solve?” Selecting a relevant problem that’s negatively impacting the business or its key stakeholders is a logical start.

But seeking data without regard to what value it can bring is a problem shared by many early IoT efforts. While it’s tempting to let the availability of the technology completely dictate the solution, the result is what I refer to as “the internet of broken things.” So how do we avoid these pitfalls?

In the webinar, I discussed what constitutes a successful IoT strategy and introduced an approach that Emerson refers to as “smart systems.” Smart systems consider the interdependence and relationships between all aspects of a connected offering that includes technology while also factoring in user experiences, business models and the specific markets we’re serving. For example, in foodservice, we often reference the concept of a connected kitchen. Taking a smart system approach to a connected kitchen means understanding various factors:

  • How end users and operators interact and interface with the connected equipment
  • The decentralization of brand control with respect to how operators may interact with equipment, which can complicate data collection
  • The relationship between manufacturer and end user, including the potential for commercializing a service model
  • Manufacturer visibility into equipment performance to allow for continuous design improvements

You can see that even before entering into a discussion of specific technologies, IoT represents a significant transformation in the way foodservice operators conduct business. For manufacturers, it’s an opportunity to gain tremendous insights into their products. But until IoT addresses the most critical problems in the foodservice sector, the opportunities for widespread adoption will be limited. Emerson not only has the technologies to implement connected kitchen solutions, we have a deep understanding of what manufacturers and end users need to create successful IoT programs.

[New E360 Webinar] Regulatory Update: Learn the Latest Rulemaking on Refrigerants

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Join us for our next E360 Webinar that will take a look at the latest refrigerant regulations impacting commercial refrigeration and AC applications on Tuesday, February 26 at 2 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST for this informative update.

One of the greatest sources of uncertainty in today’s commercial refrigeration and AC industries is the topic of refrigerants. Regulations continue to evolve quickly, primarily aimed at phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with higher global warming potentials (GWP), which are used in many applications. What’s particularly challenging is how these rules can differ from state to country to region, making it difficult to adopt a common standard.

Globally, these efforts are spearheaded by the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty in which participating countries are working toward a shared goal of HFC phase-down via mutually agreed upon timelines. In the U.S., the regulatory climate continues to be unpredictable, but states such as California are leading the charge on establishing regulatory standards.

With new updates taking place seemingly every month, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay informed. That’s why we’re dedicating our next E360 Webinar to clearing the confusion in this turbulent regulatory climate. This webinar will be hosted by Emerson’s leading experts on refrigerant regulations: Rajan Rajendran, vice president, systems innovation center and sustainability; and Jennifer Butsch, regulatory affairs manager, air conditioning. Jennifer will present the latest updates to the refrigerant rulemaking while Rajan will offer his extensive insights on how to prepare for what’s on the horizon.

Attendees will learn:

  • How recent rulings have changed the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program
  • How the California Air Resources Board (CARB) continues to leverage the original SNAP ruling as the foundation for its regional HFC refrigerant phase-down efforts
  • An update on the potential for U.S. ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol
  • Status of the standards governing charge limits and safe use of A2L and A3 refrigerants, including the potential impacts on building codes
  • How the vacating of SNAP Rule 20 potentially impacts Section 608 in terms of governing leak repair and maintenance requirements
  • Availability of new low-GWP refrigerants

Register now for this informative and free webinar.

Top 10 Emerson YouTube Videos for 2018: Lights, Camera, Expertise!

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing & Growth Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

At Emerson, seeing is explaining. When you need to keep pace with new technologies, regulations and ideas in fast-moving industries, you want to hear from the experts. That’s why we regularly call upon industry leaders to join us in discussions about the future of our commercial refrigeration industry. You can find many of these discussions in videos captured from informative E360 Webinars and Forums. What follows is a summary of our top 10 most-viewed videos of 2018.

  1. E360 Webinar 13: Seven Keys to Servicing CO2 Systems

CO2-based refrigeration systems with R-744 are new to a lot of service technicians, which drew a large audience to this webinar about dealing effectively with the refrigerant’s unique properties. Starting with an overview of the systems themselves, the presentation walked step-by-step through handling critical and triple points, high and standstill pressures, cylinder storage, charging and system maintenance best practices.

  1. E360 Forum: Dallas | Food Industry Forecast: Key Trends Through 2020

After a long period of stable growth, the restaurant, foodservice and food retail industries face a set of new and disruptive industry trends, with new business structures, different operating environments and business practices that are rapidly driving change. This E360 Forum discussed these big trends: new consumer expectations, the demand for localized food, farm-to-fork transparency, the role of technology and Big Data, and deconsolidation into specialized niches.

  1. E360 Forum: Raleigh | Cold Chain Evolution

The pressure to create an unbreakable global cold chain has become critical for the food industry. Every year, 33 percent of all food spoils in transit — a loss of $1 trillion. Food safety is critical to a brand’s reputation, trust and profits. Global transport and international regulations have extended the cold chain to air, land and water. This E360 Forum discussed the cold chains of yesterday and today, and described how the rapid evolution to a digitally connected cold chain provides the potential for end-to-end optimization.

  1. E360 Webinar 6: Best Practices for Evaluating Compressor System Performance

Whether you’re a commercial refrigeration OEM selecting a compressor for a new system or a food retailer choosing a new chiller, there are a lot of compressor options from which to choose, often with very different performance attributes to consider. This popular webinar discussed factors such as temperature mid-points and dew points, compressor capacities, energy-efficiency ratios and other issues crucial to selecting the right compressor with the lowest cost of ownership.

  1. E360 Webinar 14: EPA’s Final Refrigerant Ruling: Its Impact on Your Business

The EPA’s 2015 final rule on the delisting of HFC refrigerants in commercial refrigeration and AC applications sent shockwaves throughout our industries. This webinar detailed which refrigerants were selected for phase-down and when, discussed how the ruling impacted various refrigeration applications, and covered viable refrigerant alternatives for OEMs, operators, and refrigerant manufacturers and contractors. For the latest rulemaking on refrigerants, please view this regulatory update session from our most recent E360 Forum.

  1. E360 Conference 2017 | Trends in Supermarket Refrigeration Architectures

If they haven’t already, the architecture, systems and refrigerants in your supermarket are going to change — significantly. Driving the change? The drumbeat of international, federal and state regulations already arriving. This high-level conference covered a wide range of architectures, equipment and refrigerant options, their complexity, costs and maintenance requirements, and four key operational considerations: energy, economics, the environment and equipment.

 

  1. E360 Forum: Anaheim | Trends in Refrigerant System Architecture & CO2

As ambient temperatures go up, condenser and refrigerator compression efficiency go down. With new refrigerants, including natural refrigerants such as CO2, high temperatures — and the refrigerants’ critical points — become major considerations. In this technical presentation, centering on CO2 refrigerant as an example, we discussed a range of system architecture options and new equipment and components that help CO2 refrigeration tackle high ambient temperatures while maintaining performance.

  1. E360 Webinar 16: Innovation in Refrigeration

This webinar’s short title encompasses the enormous problems facing our industry today, including: dynamic regulations, the need for an unbreakable global cold chain, the call for access to all data, and the needs of a rapidly changing industry. In this webinar, we learned that the process of innovation itself has to evolve to involve every link in the refrigerated equipment value chain. You’ll see these new approaches modeled at The Helix Innovation Center at the University of Dayton in Ohio, where we’re actively pursuing innovations in refrigeration technology through an inclusive, collaborative approach.

  1. E360 Conference 2017 | The Human Equation of Facility Management

This is a story about shortages. Facility managers have a shortage of resources across the board and sometimes have to outsource their facility services. These services face a shortage of technicians — and a big gap in expertise between experienced technicians and the new generation. Under these circumstances, how do you manage costs and ensure efficient responses to facility problems? This conference presented an answer: call on technology to become more intelligent and provide technicians the information they need to do more with less.

  1. E360 Forum: Anaheim | Converting Waste Into Renewable Energy

Ever give a thought to the garbage disposal in your kitchen sink? This presentation showed that it’s no longer a simple appliance, but an environmentally responsible tool that keeps food waste out of landfills, keeps methane out of the air, and creates a new, clean energy source — right from the food scraps going down your sink. InSinkErator, an Emerson company, works to transform water treatment plants into energy powerhouses by creating biosolids to produce energy and fertilizers without waste.

 

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