Demand for HCFC-based air con remains strong despite future ban

R22-based air conditioning units are regularly being used in the Middle East’s residential market despite a forthcoming ban under the Montreal Protocol likely to see many working units scrapped

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By  Alison Luke Published  December 2, 2006

Thousands of operational air conditioning units are likely to be scrapped in the Middle East market as the effects of a ban under the Montreal Protocol begin to take effect. The use of CFC refrigerants is already banned under the legislation, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strictly controlling the availability of products to maintain existing plant. A freeze on the use of HCFCs is set to come into force in the Middle East in 2015. The complete phase-out of HCFCs in the Middle East is scheduled for 2040 under the Protocol. However, as a ban is already in place in Europe and the USA, the production of refrigerants has already fallen, causing higher prices and a potential scarcity for maintenance of existing units. As the use of refrigerants in units is not interchangable, without supplies they will become redundant. Despite the forthcoming ban, air conditioning units operating on R22 are still being regularly installed in the region’s residential market. “R22 is still being used in [Middle East] countries in quite an abundance,” confirmed Javed Arshad, general manager of air conditioning manufacturer UTS Carrier. He warned that contactors and developers must prepare for a more sudden change than is given under the Protocol. “The date of 2015 may be brought forward by the EPA and we may also be forced [to change practices] before that date if plants are not manufacturing for the developed world as our demand is only around 25% of the total plant capacity. Therefore we will be forced to buy the equipment with new refrigerants long before 2015,” he stressed. The market is already seeing the effects of the ban on CFCs, which will be officially enforced in 2010. “Many of those machines are actually being replaced now. There were a lot of machines that were still in good working condition and we have had to replace them,” stated Arshad. The expected 15-20 year lifespan of air conditioners mean that many units being installed now will be in place when the freeze on HCFCs comes into force, but firms are not planning ahead. “We should get ready for HCFCs being phased out. We should not wait for 2015, but should start quickly moving towards more environmentally friendly refrigerants. Rather than being forced, we should make a strategy of providing this equipment to the market,” Arshad concluded.

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