06 November 2023 Blogs
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), found in refrigeration, fire protection, air conditioning, and heat pump systems, have come under the spotlight due to their powerful greenhouse gas properties, exacerbating global warming. These fluorinated greenhouse gases, commonly known as F-Gases, are a family of compounds containing fluorine, and their regulation has recently taken centre stage in efforts to mitigate their impact on our planet.
About F-Gas Regulation 517/2014
To address the pressing concerns surrounding F-Gases, the European Union introduced the F-Gas Regulation 517/2014, which mandates a substantial 79% reduction in the use of HFCs between 2015 and 2030. This ambitious goal is achieved through a phasedown approach, reducing the amount of HFCs available in the market and imposing stricter requirements for leak testing. But perhaps one of the most crucial components of this regulation is the emphasis on training and certification for technical personnel and companies involved in working with F-Gases.
The overall aim of F-Gas is to reduce and contain emissions by using responsible refrigeration. The regulations make reference to:
- Better containment of F-gases in their applications
- Recovery of F-gases from products and equipment reaching their end of life
- Training and certification of technical personnel and businesses working with F-gases
- Reporting of production, import and export data
- Labelling of certain products and equipment containing those gases
With common HFCs like HFC 404A and HFC 134a in refrigeration systems, HFC 23 and HFC 227ea in fire protection systems, and HFC 404A and HFC 410A in air conditioning and heat pump systems, a wide range of industries are directly impacted by these regulations.
Whether you operate, service, or maintain equipment that contains these potent greenhouse gases, it’s vital to understand the implications of this legislation for your business and your role within it.
Further information on the regulations can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/fluorinated-gases-f-gases
These F-Gas regulations affect your business
Develop Training has recently seen a surge in F gas training requests, as employers are ensuring that their employees are undertaking this mandatory training requirement and they understand the impending changes and what they mean for their business.
Only trained technicians can carry out work on equipment containing F gases, including:
- testing for leaks
- general maintenance
- disposal or decommissioning when you no longer need the product
In this blog post, our F-Gas Trainer, Brandon Clark, delves into the world of F-Gases and answers some of the most frequently asked questions around F-Gas Regulation 517/2014.
How does F-Gas Regulation 517/2014 affect me?
If you manufacture, supply, use, install or service equipment containing F gases you must comply with legislation.
Here’s how these regulations affect your business:
Mandatory Training Requirements: One of the most crucial aspects of the F-Gas Regulation is the requirement for all personnel and companies involved in handling, recovering, supplying, installing, manufacturing, maintaining, servicing, or owning equipment containing HFC refrigerants to be F-Gas certified. This means that all your employees who work with F-Gases must undergo specific training and obtain the necessary certifications. Without certified personnel, your business may not be in compliance with the law.
Impact on Day-to-Day Operations: If your business involves the use of equipment that contains F-Gases, such as refrigeration systems, air conditioning units, or fire protection systems, the regulations will affect your daily operations. You will need to ensure that trained and certified technicians handle tasks like installation, testing for leaks, general maintenance, and disposal or decommissioning. This could lead to changes in your workflow, staff training, and operational procedures.
Reporting and Record-Keeping: The F-Gas Regulation requires businesses to maintain detailed records of F-Gas use, including production, import, and export data within the EU. Compliance with these reporting requirements is essential to avoid potential fines and legal repercussions. It also means you need efficient systems in place for data collection and documentation.
Product Labelling: Depending on the nature of your business and the products you deal with, you might be required to label certain products and equipment that contain F-Gases in accordance with the regulations. This ensures transparency and traceability in the supply chain.
Impact on Costs: Achieving compliance with F-Gas regulations may entail investing in employee training, equipment upgrades, and record-keeping systems. While these initial investments may increase operational costs, the long-term benefits include reduced emissions, environmental responsibility, and compliance with the law.
Environmental Responsibility: The primary goal of F-Gas regulations is to reduce and contain emissions of these potent greenhouse gases. By complying with these regulations, your business contributes to global efforts to combat climate change and minimise the environmental impact of F-Gases.
Market Access: In some cases, non-compliance with F-Gas regulations can affect your ability to access certain markets or participate in government contracts. Being in line with these regulations can enhance your business’s reputation and open up opportunities for collaboration and expansion.
F-Gas regulations have a direct impact on your business by necessitating employee training and certification, changing operational procedures, requiring data reporting and record-keeping, and promoting environmental responsibility. To ensure compliance and minimise disruption, it’s essential to stay informed about these regulations, invest in training and certification for your staff, and adapt your business practices to align with the requirements set by the F-Gas Regulation.
Which gases are covered by the F-Gas Regulations?
The F-Gas Regulation encompasses several classes of fluorinated greenhouse gases. Specifically, it covers:
HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons): HFCs are a type of fluorinated greenhouse gas used in various applications, including refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump systems. The F-Gas Regulation sets measures to control and reduce the use of HFCs, making them a primary focus of the regulations.
However, it’s important to note that not all F-gases fall under the same regulatory provisions.
The crucial phase-down measures, for instance, apply to HFCs but not to the following classes of F-gases:
PFCs (perfluorocarbons): PFCs are another class of fluorinated greenhouse gases. While they are covered by regulations, they are subject to separate provisions, distinct from the phase-down measures applied to HFCs.
SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride): SF6 is yet another class of fluorinated greenhouse gas, and like PFCs, it falls under different regulatory provisions compared to HFCs. The F-Gas Regulation’s measures do not apply to SF6 in the same way they do for HFCs.
Synthetic refrigerants covered by the regulation and used in refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment and systems include the following important refrigerants:
- R-134a (GWP 1,430)
- R-407c (GWP 1,744)
- R-410a (GWP 2,088)
- R-404a (GWP 3,922)
- R-507 (GWP 3,990)
How do I know if I have F-gasses in my equipment?
Every refrigeration and air conditioning system should have an information plate securely attached to it. In the case of air conditioning units, you’ll typically find this plate on the outdoor condensing unit, while for refrigeration systems, it’s usually located on the primary plant.
Among the various details provided on this information plate, one critical piece of information is the identification of the refrigerant used in the system and its quantity, measured in kilograms.
Refrigerant types are denoted by an ‘R’ number on these system information plates. For example, you may encounter designations like R410a, R404a, R407a, R407c, or R407f, each corresponding to a specific type of refrigerant.
Do I need an F-Gas certification?
Every person working in the sector must hold a personal F-Gas qualification and every business entity, whether working as a sole trader or a limited company, must hold a company registration certificate (REFCOM) for any work involved with any part of an installation, repairs, servicing, maintenance, or decommissioning.
This means that someone working as a sole trader must be registered as a company as well as hold their individual F-Gas qualification i.e. City & Guilds 2079-11, BESA FGas, CITB J11, or LCL FGas.
Who is responsible for equipment containing F-Gases?
The primary obligations primarily fall on the operator, defined as the “the natural or legal person exercising actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment and systems.”
It’s crucial to emphasise that the responsibility lies with the “operator who uses the equipment.” This might not necessarily be the owner, particularly in cases where a building is leased or a business is managed across multiple locations by appointed managers.
- F-Gas Category 1 covers the installation, service, maintenance, recovery and leakage checking of stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment with a charge more than 3kg or 6kg (if hermetically sealed).
- F-Gas Category 2 covers equipment with a charge of less than 3kg (6kg if hermetically sealed).
- F-Gas Category 3 covers refrigerant recovery from stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment.
- F-Gas Category 4 covers leak checking of stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment.
What does F-Gas Category 1 (2079-11) cover?
If you want to work in the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and/or Heat Pump Industry, installing, servicing and leak checking systems the City & Guilds Award in F-Gas and ODS Regulations: Category I – Leak checking, recovery, installation, service, maintenance of equipment qualification is the legal minimum requirement.
Suitable for new entrants to the industry or those with no previous training, Category 1 f – gas means you are able to carry out any of the controlled activity on any size system.
The F-Gas City and Guilds 2079-11 qualification lasts forever – there is not a requirement to re-do it every so many years, unlike many other f-gas qualifications. However, it is up to the individual themselves to keep updated with the correct working practices and legislations. This is to ensure that they keep up the safe working standards.
At the heart of these regulations lies an essential component – the emphasis on training and certification for technical personnel and companies working with F-Gases. The goal is to ensure that those operating, servicing, or maintaining equipment containing F-Gases are equipped with the knowledge and skills to handle these substances responsibly and safely.
This is where Develop Training steps in. With the surge in F-Gas training requests, we understand the increasing demand for education and expertise in this field. Our City & Guilds 2079-11 scheme F-Gas Cat 1 training course has been meticulously designed to provide your employees with the essential training and certification required to meet these stringent regulations.
The Cat 1 F gas training course equips participants with the essential knowledge and hands-on expertise needed to perform tasks involving the setup, servicing, upkeep, refrigerant recovery, and leakage inspection of stationary refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump equipment with a refrigerant charge exceeding 3kg or 6kg (in cases of hermetically sealed systems).
With Develop Training, you can be confident that your staff will be well-prepared to handle these obligations effectively.
F-Gas Cat 1 2079-11 training course
Develop offer the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the intricacies of F-Gases, ensuring compliance with the law and minimising the environmental impact of your operations. Our comprehensive 5 day F-Gas Cat 1 course is delivered by a time-served, fully qualified NVQ Level 3 refrigeration engineer and covers a wide array of topics, including installation, leak testing, general maintenance, and disposal or decommissioning of equipment containing F-Gases.
Choose Develop Training and equip your team with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the challenges of F-Gas regulations head-on.
It’s not just a requirement; it’s a step towards a greener, more sustainable future for your business and our planet.
Training can be offered at our Derby, Swindon, Manchester, Linlithgow, Brentwood or York based centres or at a location of your choice.
Contact us today on 0800 876 6708 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place on a training course or enquire about a bespoke course at a location of your choice.