National Refrigerants has reported a 600% increase in the cost of gases such as R404a and R507a. It warned some gas resellers had introduced an additional Energy and Environment Surcharge fee per kilogramme for all refrigerants.
An initial refrigerant gas quota reduction of 7% was introduced in 2016. Restrictions for pre-charged equipment followed last year.
Import less refrigerant in Europe
That has meant refrigerant manufacturers could import less refrigerant in Europe, and manufacturers importing goods containing HFC gases outside the EU had to buy quotas to cover the gas in the equipment.
Quotas this year have fallen to 63% of 2015 levels as the phase-out of environmentally-harmful HFCs continues, and demand has risen for pre-charged equipment.
“At the moment, customers are so fixated on pricing, they are not considering the bigger picture,” Simon Ravenscroft, regional and international sales manager at National Refrigerants told Food Manufacture.
Lack of availability
He claimed the biggest challenge for businesses would be lack of availability, especially during warmer summer months. “This year’s cut will certainly lead to supply issues for some.”
Eco-friendly alternatives to HFCs could offer viable long-term alternatives, he said. These include Hydrocarbons R290 and R1270; ammonia; CO2; and new refrigerants known as hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) R1234YF and R1234ZE.
The EU-funded ‘REAL Alternatives 4 LIFE’ project is assessing procedures for safe use of these refrigerants. Meanwhile, the Institute of Refrigeration has updated its Safety Code of Practice
for Non-Flammable, Lower Toxicity Refrigerants.