Industry observers believe propane refrigeration’s energy advantages would protect it from any rollback of Department of Energy regulations.
Trump has already promised to rescind the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan (which includes HFC reductions) and Clean Power Plan, cancel the U.S.’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, and scrap regulations he considers unnecessary.
In regard to hydrocarbon refrigeration, the Department of Energy (DOE) has had a major impact during the Obama Administration. The DOE’s latest energy efficiency regulation for appliances, which take effect next March, have helped spark a conversion by many self-contained equipment manufacturers to energy-efficient small-charge propane refrigeration.
Geoff Amos, director, NRMS Global Limited, a UK-based consultancy focused on natural refrigerants, does not think any attempt by the DOE to slow down or rescind its efficiency requirements would “make the slightest difference” to propane adoption. “R290 is a great refrigerant, which has had the opportunity to prove its merits in small-charge applications through the medium of massive energy realizations. So this one is just about common sense, not the DOE’s jurisdiction.”
“R290 is a great refrigerant … So this one is just about common sense, not the DOE’s jurisdiction.”
– Geoff Amos, NRMS Global Limited
Howell Feig, director of sales, AHT Cooling Systems USA, a manufacturer of self-contained propane refrigeration units, observed that while the Trump administration could possibly slow development, change, and incentives, “it is my opinion that it would not change the course we are headed down.”
AHT, he added, “will continue to be an innovative leader with the use of natural refrigerants and the development of new cases using hydrocarbons, as well as speak to the benefits for retailers and the global community. In my opinion, global consumer demand as it relates to climate change concerns, previous investments and testing should help continue to move the pendulum forward.”
Jody Freeman, professor of law and founding director of the Environmental Law Program at Harvard Law School, wrote in Harvard Law Today. that rescinding rules that are already final and partially implemented “can be especially difficult to the extent the affected industry already has invested in compliance. In such circumstances, the industry itself may resist change because it would suffer additional expense from the uncertainty or volatility posed by rescission.”
On the other hand, Freeman wrote, “it is possible for Trump’s EPA/DOI/DOE, etc, to slow-walk any new or proposed regulations, even if they are required by statute, and to likewise seek to hobble enforcement.”