With lack of trained technicians often cited among the main barriers to wider uptake of propane-based (R290) room air conditioning (RAC) uptake in Europe, experts at a recent seminar agreed that proper training and adherence to necessary safety guidelines can overcome such issues.

Over 40 industry experts from both the public and private sector gathered during a one-day seminar entitled, ‘Expert Day on R290 split ACs: Unlocking the European market uptake‘ held on 17 October alongside the Chillventa 2018 tradeshow (16-18 October) in Nuremberg, Germany.

The seminar was jointly hosted by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and the IKI (International Climate Initiative) project Cool Contributions fighting Climate Change (C4).

Discussion centered on how to unlock the potential for R290 AC in Europe. While R290 split AC systems are increasingly used in other parts of the world (India-based manufacturer Godrej recently announced that it had sold 600,000 R290 RAC systems to date), Europe is currently lagging behind in adoption of this technology.

Chinese R290 AC manufacturers ramping up production

Signalling increased readiness among manufacturers to supply R290 AC systems in China, Ole Nielsen, who heads UNIDO’s Montreal Protocol Division, mentioned during the seminar that besides the 20 production lines that had already been converted to R290 in China, an additional 20 were planned to be converted within the next five years.

Manufacturers indicated that sales of R290 AC systems in China could hit six figures by next year.

“We have already sold more than 43,000 R290 portable AC and dehumidifiers,” said Davide Caravatti of Midea Europe GmbH. “For R290 split units, it is just necessary to push the button to start the series production, but the right policy measures and safety standards are needed.”

Chinese manufacturer Midea, who received the first Blue Angel certification for split ACs for its inverter R290 model, also highlighted its research and development work with regard to R290 and its plans to expand its R290 product portfolio.

The company stressed the importance of ensuring that AC technicians were well qualified to handle flammable A3 refrigerants in split ACs.

The company plans to introduce its Blue Angel-certified R290 split air conditioner to the European market in May 2019.

Additional presentations on the need for low-GWP refrigerants due to the HFC phasedown, eco-labelling, and global market trends were made by BMU, GIZ Proklima, UBA and shecco (publisher of this website) during the seminar.

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