DNREC publishes planned regulations for phasing in greener refrigerants

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The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today that new hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) regulations were published March 1 in the state’s Register of Regulations.

The requirements for reducing harmful HFCs go into effect on Sept. 1 of this year.

The new regulation establishes a state schedule to phase down specific HFCs used in air conditioning/refrigeration equipment, aerosols, and foams.

DNREC says HFCs are hundreds to thousands of times more potent per unit of mass than carbon dioxide (CO2) in contributing to climate change. Emissions of HFC emissions are growing at a rate of 8% per year, and the regulation will address the critical need to phase down their use, a release stated.

“The HFCs targeted by this regulation are gases that are highly potent in terms of global warming potential,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “The adoption of these prohibitions will expand and strengthen Delaware’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Industry, non-government organizations, and industry association representatives worked with DNREC to tailor the regulation to reflect technology feasibility and additional environmental, industrial, and economic considerations.

The phase-down schedule – detailed in the regulation – begins Sept. 1, 2021, for specific HFC end-uses.

The DNREC Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy has developed the “Cool Switch” Low Impact Refrigerant Program that offers incentives to offset the initial costs of switching to new equipment or retrofitting existing equipment to use the new class of refrigerants.

The Cool Switch program complements the regulation to accelerate the state’s transitioning away from HFCs – and is a voluntary program available to Delaware businesses and non-residential consumers that use at least 50 lbs. of refrigerant. For comparison, 50 lbs. of refrigerant in a system might be used by the typical convenience store for effective cooling, with grocery stores and schools examples of non-residential consumers that use much more than 50 lbs. at a given time for their refrigerant needs.

The Cool Switch program was launched in early 2020.

The Buccini/Pollin Group, Giant Foods, and Sea Watch International are among Delaware businesses participating in the program to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Delaware.

More information about the new HFC regulation can be found on the DNREC website. Details about the Cool Switch HFC program can be found on the website.

The phase-down of HFCs has not been universally praised, with a director at the Glasgow-based Caesar Rodney Institute claiming the move will increase costs for businesses and consumers and comes with minimal benefits in dealing with climate change.

David Stevenson claims the mandates cater to companies like Wilmington-based Chemours, which has developed a new refrigerant line.

Outgoing President Donald Trump signed a Covid-19 relief measure that included the phase-down of HFCs.

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