The German Federal Institute of Statistics (Destatis) has revealed a 3.4% annual rise of F-gases for 2008. This was attributed to an overall increase in the use of harmful substances in air conditioning. R134a in stationary, but more importantly in Mobile Air Conditioning was responsible for the largest share.
In its press release on 1 December, Destatis revealed that German businesses used 10,030 tons of F-gases in 2008 – a 3.4% increase compared to the previous year. Of all the variables included in the survey refrigerants saw the most dramatic rise to 7,200 tons of F-gases from the total. As highlighted in the Destatis report, high global warming refrigerants used in air conditioning were largely responsible for this increase, where a 5% rise in car production had also led to an increase in the use of R134a in Mobile Air Conditiong (MAC). The results, released just before international negotiators will meet in Copenhagen to discuss rising F-gases emissions, can be seen as a major setback on Germany’s way to take environmental leadership. Repeatedly, both the Environment Ministry and the Federal Environment Agency had called for an early phase-out of R134a in stationary and mobile applications, urging OEMs and retailers to use natural refrigerants with lowest environmental impact instead.
Leakages largest problem
The results confirm that effective containment and installation procedures, as advocated by proponents of a continued use of F-gases, were not successful. The report hence highlights that 75% of emissions can be traced back to leakages occurring during the initial filling of stationary or mobile AC units, with the rest resulted in leakages from re-filling existing installations and decommissioning of older units. Tetrafluoroethane, also referred to as R134a, was identified as the predominant refrigerant leaked into the atmosphere. Within a 100 year window R134a will have a Global Warming Potential of 1420. It is estimated that Germany emits nine million tons of R134a from various sources.
Spain follows a similar path
A recent European Environmental Agency report on current EU trends and projections for Greenhouse Gases has indicated that Spain is on a similar path. Trends indicate that the emissions of F-gases have risen steadily over the last years and are projected to carry on with this upward path. Currently Spain emits 1.5% of F-gases as part of their total GHG emissions. Within the EU, whose average emissions are 1.5% of total greenhouse gases, France is the top emitter with 3.2%.