European Commission at the REI Summit: Innovative Technologies Applied to Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

Outcomes of the Convention organised by United Nations (UNEP) – Renewable Energy Institute (REI)- IIR – CSG – TERRE held at Politecnico di Milano on the 9th, 10th and 11th June 2011 Photo above: full hall at the 14th European conference, 200 persons representing 23 different nations. Photo below: the Presidents of the Conference (from the left, anticlockwise) Walid Chakroun ASHRAE, Gerald Cavalier CEMAFROID, Louis Lucas CNF, Lucia Antonini European Commission, Marco Buoni AREA, Rajendra Shende UNEP, Susan Roaf Heriot-Watt Uni, Paolo Buoni EEC, Didier Coulomb IIR, Enrico Buoni CSG, Alberto Cavallini Univ. di Padova.


On the 9th, 10th and 11th June ’11 leading authorities in refrigeration and air conditioning highlighted the need to strengthen and enforce existing regulations for fluorinated greenhouse gases. Yet, meeting environmental targets for greenhouse gas emissions will also require end users to be educated and involved in taking responsibility for their refrigeration units. Nearly 200 delegates from over 23 countries across Europe, the United States, South Korea, India and Japan gathered in Milan for the second instalment of the 14th European Conference on Renewable Energy and Heating.  The conference, which was organized by the Renewable Energy Institute, United Nations (UNEP), IIR and TERRE focused heavily on the latest technologies in refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) and setting an economically and environmentally sustainable vision for the industry.

Conference Attendees, June 2011

The head of OzonAction Branch of United Nations Environment Programme, Mr Shende, who chaired the conference said, “The destiny of refrigeration and air conditioning industry lies in forging a sustainable business model that cares for the environment.” During his speech, Mr Shende called to mind Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy about how beliefs and thoughts guide our habits, values and ultimately our destiny. “The RAC industry is starting a new journey amidst legislative threats. But on the way, new job creation and other low-hanging fruits offer exceptional opportunities for a truly Green Economy.  Those opportunities should be part of our value system.” Yet, Didier Coulomb of the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) stressed the importance of making careful choices when selecting new environmentally friendly technologies, “The selection of refrigerants needs to be linked to an energy efficient solution”. This was met with agreement by Marco Buoni, Vice President of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration European Association (AREA), “AREA’s members are uniquely placed to give expert, but unbiased advice about the use of various refrigerants.  We know that CO2 and other natural refrigerants are good for northern climates and supermarkets but they are not much used in Italy, Portugal or Spain.” Mr Buoni also called for more training of technicians and other staff handling natural refrigerants and not only HFCs, “the UK is trying to roll out a rapid changeover from HFC to CO2 use because of political pressure, but the industry simply doesn’t have enough competent, fully trained field engineers to install, service and maintain them.” Many speakers, including the European Commission, expressed disappointment about the lack of implementation of ‘certification of personnel’ regulations in Italy, which is leading to a distortion of the EU market.  European Commission DG Climate Action, Lucia Antonini, about the future review of the F-gas regulation said  “If necessary, we will see upgrade and/or strengthen of existing legislation through clarification and enhancement of its effectiveness and efficiency”, she also said that this could be foreseen “to anticipate future developments by ensuring compatibility with potential international commitments for HFCs, in particular under the Montreal Protocol”. By implementing such changes along with increased involvement of end-users in directing the industry and helping to maintain units, it may be possible to achieve the ‘Systems Thinking’ approach which Professor Susan Roaf of Edinburgh Heriot-Watt University of Edinburgh sees as an essential design principle for the future, “We must work together in strategic partnerships where the effect of each part of the industry, including the training needs of installers is considered in relation to the health of the whole industry and our environment”. Written by Dr Ian Tennant