I am aware that there have been concerns expressed that the wording "designed to contain" has been omitted from the proposed new regulation's update on the original F Gas regulation. Allow me to put the record straight and put a stop to this damaging confusion.
The current F-gas implementing regulation 303/2008 says that a recognised F-Gas qualification must be held by personnel carrying out installation, maintenance or servicing of stationary refrigeration, air conditioning or heat pump equipment that contains or is designed to contain F-Gas refrigerants.
Under the proposed revised F-gas regulation, it has been suggested that the omission of the words "designed to contain' will open up installations to anybody rather than only to properly certified people. This is nonsense of course. The proposal includes Article 2, para 4 which states that "all persons undertaking installing, servicing, maintaining, repairing or decommissioning equipment shall be certified in accordance with Article 8" - where it spells out the training & certification requirements in line with what we already have. There is no devaluation of current standards or any loophole being opened where once there was none. If anything the wording in the proposal is clearer in setting out that all installations must be carried out by certified professionals. But at least in some countries where a blind eye is turned to householders installing mini-splits then we now have some control over the environmentally damaging part of an installation, ie leak testing and charging
In fact the words "designed to contain" did not appear at all in the original F Gas regulation, 842/2006, which is being reviewed at the moment and is currently about to enter the parliamentary process. Where they did appear was in the implementing regulation 303/2008 under Article 3, Definitions for "installation" and "maintenance and servicing". To be clear: this is not currently being amended or looked at. It may well be at a later date once the full regulation replacing 842/2006 is finalised, but for now 303/2008 remains as valid as ever.
The ACRIB F Gas fact sheet no.6 explains adequately, I thought, when it states:
"The phrase "containing or designed to contain". This means that appropriately qualified personnel working for a certificated company must be used for all activities that directly involve refrigerant handling and other related installation activities that do not involve handling refrigerant, but could affect the safety, leakage emissions and energy efficiency of the completed installation."
Any deviation from this position would undoubtedly undermine the integrity of a system and increase emissions accordingly, but as I've said, there has been no suggestion to omit this or change this position so why are people getting themselves tied up in knots about it? These people seem to be saying that standards are being diluted by the proposed new regulation measures. How can this be when we have seen the following measures introduced:
· Change of legal responsibility to make it an offence to supply gas to uncertified people: "The current obligation...should be complemented by a corresponding obligation of the supplier to abstain from delivery to companies not complying with this obligation". This gives wholesalers the legal tools to refuse supplies to non certified people and companies.
· Ban on pre-charging of split systems. This prevents the DIY and cowboy sector from continuing to import and sell via internet outlets like eBay. Without the gas in the systems, end users will have to come to professional companies to get their systems properly tested and charged,.
· Mandatory certification and training in alternatives to HFCs. As the market moves increasingly towards more environmentally benign refrigerants in certain sectors, where they are efficient to use, so a more widespread use of potentially hazardous gases will become. It is eminently sensible for this to go hand in hand with formal training and certification in the use of so called "naturals" across the technician level. This can only improve overall standards of knowledge, safety and technical ability.
What we at AREA have been trying to do through our engagement with the Commission personnel and the various stakeholders involved in the review process has been to make the F Gas regulation workable. To close off many of the loopholes that the original regulation left and make it easier for the national authorities across the EU to properly and effectively police the regulation.
At AREA we believe that this proposal goes a long way towards achieving these aims. It's not perfect - no piece of legislation is. But it is a big step forward towards achieving a more professional refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump sector.