The Danish Environmental Protection Agency's guidance for applications for exemption from the ban on the use of industrial greenhouse gases (HFCs, PFCs and SF6 (F gases))
Many applications of industrial greenhouse gases are not permitted; cf. the Ministry of the Environment's Statutory Order No. 552 of 2 July 2002 on the regulation of certain industrial greenhouse gases (HFCs, PFCs and SF6). These substances are also known as fluorinated greenhouse gases or simply fluorinated gases, and the abbreviation "F gases" is therefore often used.
This guidance document describes the Danish Environmental Protection Agency's requirements concerning what each application should contain and under what general conditions an exemption can be granted.
Pursuant to the Act on chemical substances and products, the Ministry of the Environment issued Statutory Order No. 552 of 2 July 2002 on the regulation of certain industrial greenhouse gases (HFCs, PFCs and SF6). In 2000, an act of parliament was also adopted concerning a tax on the use of these gases. The tax entered into force in March 2001.
The three industrial greenhouse gases (HFCs, PFCs and SF6 (F gases)), together with CO2, nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane, are all covered by the Kyoto Protocol from December 1997. The industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) are all powerful greenhouse gases. For example, 1 kg of the two most frequently used HFC gases in Denmark (HFC-134a and HFC-404A) corresponds to 1,300 and 3,780 kg CO2 respectively, whilst SF6 is equivalent to over 22,000 kg CO2.
During the negotiations in Kyoto, the EU collectively undertook to reduce emissions from the Member States by at least 8% during the period 2008-2012 compared with 1990 (1995 figures for industrial greenhouse gases). During the subsequent negotiations within the EU, Denmark undertook – subject to certain conditions – to reduce total Danish emissions by 21% during this period.
Emissions of industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) account for approximately 1-1.5% of the total emissions of greenhouse gases in Denmark. It is anticipated that emissions will remain at this level in the coming years due to the bans and the tax. Without these regulations, an increase to at least twice that figure in 2010 was anticipated, followed by an even greater increase in subsequent years.
The aim of the Danish regulations concerning the industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) is to limit the use and therefore the emissions of these gases insofar as is possible, so that Denmark is able fulfil the obligations that it has entered into in an international context. The restriction will be imposed whilst at the same time taking into consideration the fact that total emissions of all greenhouse gases from, for example, refrigeration systems (from energy consumption and refrigerants, including emissions from everyday operation, accidents, refilling/recharging etc.) will not increase when the alternatives to the industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) are used.
1.2 Exports not covered
For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that the ban does not apply to the import, manufacture and sale of products exclusively for export; cf. Section 8 of the Act on chemical substances and products, no. 21 of 16/01/1996. This states that:
"The Act does not apply to chemical substances and products that are exported, unless the Minister decides otherwise. The same shall apply to products that contain or release chemical substances or products.
Subsection 2. The Act does not apply to chemical substances and products which were manufactured abroad and which are only transported through the country as transit goods. The same shall apply to products that contain or release chemical substances or products."
The Minister has not decided otherwise, as is apparent from the Minister of the Environment's reply to a question in the Danish Parliament's Environmental and Planning Committee on 29.08.01, when he stated that "I also wish to strongly emphasise that the draft statutory order does NOT cover exports, so the manufacture of refrigerators and other products containing HFCs for export will continue to be permitted.".
It is therefore not prohibited to import industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) for the manufacture of a given product that is to be exported, even if the same product cannot be sold on the Danish market. An example is household refrigerators based on HFCs, the sale of which has been prohibited on the Danish market since 1 January 2006. The import of HFCs for use in the manufacture of such refrigerators is permitted in Denmark, provided that the products are exported.
2. Exemption provision
2.1 The exemption rule
The Danish legislation has been formulated on the basis of thorough studies of the market, including consultant reports, consultations, meetings with stakeholders and consultations concerning the draft statutory order. The market is being monitored closely, as the sectors concerned are continually developing new alternatives.
Despite the well-researched market and the review of alternatives and areas of application, it was found necessary to make provision for the possibility of certain restricted exemptions, so that the regulations could be adapted to ongoing developments and prevent inappropriate circumstances from arising.
Section 4 subsection 2 of the Statutory Order states that "In exceptional circumstances, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency may permit deviations from the regulations in this Statutory Order."
Against the background of the general ban, the main aim of the exemption provision is to ensure that no inappropriate circumstances arise which could not have been predicted at the time of introduction of the regulations. As mentioned previously, the Statutory Order contains a large number of exemptions relating to applications where, when the Statutory order entered into force, it was known that there were no commercially available alternatives on the market and that no such alternatives would be developed within the foreseeable future, or that a ban would result in unreasonable costs being incurred. The latter applies for example to the exemption concerning the servicing of existing systems. It would be unreasonable to require all existing systems to be replaced, as this would result in enormous social costs being incurred. The exemptions were introduced following a thorough review and deliberations on each individual case, taking into account both the Danish and foreign consultation responses that were received during the consultation phases.
The aim of the exemption provision is to prevent the ban from having disproportionately severe consequences in specific cases that were not foreseen at the time the regulations were introduced or where the assumptions in specific individual cases proved to be incorrect. This applies in regard to both finances and the environment. It is clear that the exemption provision is narrow, and that in every single case objective, verifiable arguments must be presented as to why the circumstances differ from the normal situation within the field.
It must also be taken into consideration that the exemption provision must be used in a way which ensures that the main purpose of the ban, i.e. the reduction of the harmful environmental effects of greenhouse gases, is not wasted. The exemption provision must therefore be used in a way which ensures that the environmental improvements resulting from the ban are achieved in the best and most effective way possible.
2.2 Formulation and distribution of information
The application should preferably be available to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency in either Danish or English. It is therefore important to ensure that any foreign manufacturers or subcontractors can provide information in these languages.
The application must be sent to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. The application must be submitted either on paper or sent by email to Obfuscated Email . Applications will be considered in accordance with the provisions of ordinary public administration legislation for case processing by public authorities. Applications and other documents concerning the case are therefore subject to the ordinary right of access in accordance with the Public Administration Act and the Freedom of Information Act, as well as the Act on right of access to environmental information.
It is the applicant's responsibility to submit complete and adequate documentation to meet all applicable requirements for the granting of an exemption.
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency will assess cases on the basis of the information that is submitted. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency may require further information and check the accuracy of the information that is submitted. In some cases, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency may also take the initiative to arrange a meeting with the applicant concerning the case.
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency will endeavour to consider the exemption application as quickly as possible. Only in rare cases is it expected that cases will take more than four weeks to consider, provided that all the necessary information has been received.
2.3 Criteria for exemptions
The regulations cover a general ban, which the Danish Environmental Protection Agency may permit exemptions from "in exceptional circumstances". In the Danish Environmental Protection Agency's administrative practising of the right to an exemption, an emphasis is therefore placed on ensuring that there are exceptional circumstances which set the situation for which the exemption is being sought apart from the normal situation within the field.
In order to be granted an exemption, at least one of the following criteria must be met and documented (see section 4: Requirements for applications). However, the exemption will be based on an overall assessment of the specific case concerned. This means that an exemption may be granted even if none of the criteria is met in full, as the partial fulfilment of several criteria could result in an exemption being seen as justified overall.
- No alternatives are available: alternatives to industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) are not available. Cases may arise where there are no suitable alternatives at the time the regulations enter into force.
- Alternatives cannot be used: the alternatives to industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) that do exist cannot be used in the particular situation concerned, e.g. for safety or other legislative reasons.
- Unreasonable costs associated with the use of alternatives: unreasonable costs would be associated with the use of alternatives in the particular situation concerned compared to the total value of the product or system. "Unreasonable costs" means costs that are disproportionate to the environmental benefit that would be associated with the use of alternatives.
- The use of alternatives would lead to higher emissions of greenhouse gases: total emissions of greenhouse gases converted to CO2 equivalents would be demonstrably lower for a system/product that contains or uses industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) than for a system that contains or uses alternatives in the specific situation concerned. An exemption may be granted in such a case, as the overall aim is of course to reduce the total contribution of greenhouse gases.
The criterion concerning total emissions of greenhouse gases can be illustrated using the example of a refrigeration system. Emissions of greenhouse gases from a refrigeration system originate both from indirect emissions of CO2 from the consumption of electricity and from direct emissions of refrigerants, with the refrigerant being converted to CO2 equivalents in accordance with certain specified factors established by the UN Climate Panel (see section 4.2). Only emissions generated while the system is in operation are taken into consideration.
3. General conditions for exemptions
Exemptions will therefore generally be granted for a shorter, limited period of time, although exemptions for larger refrigeration systems over 10 kg will typically apply for the lifetime of the system (cf. the exemption for existing systems). The exemptions will generally expire after a certain period of time in order to promote the development of alternatives.
If an exemption is to be renewed, a new application must be submitted containing evidence that there is still a need for the exemption from the ban.
4. Requirements for applications
Applications must at least contain a review of the following circumstances:
- The specific use (purpose and nature) must be described thoroughly. A description must be submitted of, for example, where the system concerned is to be located (address), where the substance concerned is to be used (e.g. as a trace element) or for which product or system (name/trade name) the industrial greenhouse gas is to be used.
- The name(s) of the industrial greenhouse gas(es) used (possibly as an R number) and wherever possible chemical names and formulae; trade names alone are not sufficient.
- The quantity that is expected to be used (annually where applicable) must be specified. The volume required to fill the system must be specified for refrigeration systems.
4.2 Consequences for the environment and health
- For refrigeration systems containing >10 kg refrigerant: The total (annual) environmental load with regard to CO2 equivalents1must be determined, including both the indirect contribution in the form of energy consumption (1 kWh is equivalent to 0.6 kg CO2 – 2003 figure) and the direct contribution in the form of leakage and losses during recharging and drainage. As regards refrigeration systems, an annual leakage rate of 10% should be assumed. The GWP1of the individual substances must be used in connection with these calculations. Only emissions generated during operation of the system are included.
- For other uses: The estimated emissions must be specified, taking into account how much, if any, is unintentionally released during production, how much remains in the product during use, any losses associated with refilling and disposal, etc. The GWP1of the individual substances must be used in connection with these calculations.
- Description of why alternatives cannot be used in the situation concerned, including at least the following:
- Are no alternatives available on the market?
- Can the alternatives not be used in this particular situation because of special circumstances such as measurement considerations?
- Would the use of alternatives contribute to higher emissions of greenhouse gases overall, e.g. as a result of increased energy consumption (see also 4.2)?
- Are there health, safety or environmental problems associated with the use of the alternatives?
- The application must also consider whether there is any possibility of using alternatives to industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) for part of the production/system/product/use and give a description of why it is not possible, where applicable.
- A description must be provided of the economics of using a solution based on industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) and a solution based on the use of alternatives to these gases. In connection with this, consideration must be given to the fact that the industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) are subject to a tax2. Any added costs that the use of an alternative solution which does not use these gases would result in must be described in full, and a statement must be submitted as to whether such added costs are considered to be disproportionate.
5. Examples of exemption practice
Annex 1 presents a brief review of the exemptions that have been granted. This list is updated regularly and is available on the Danish Environmental Protection Agency's website.
An example of the absence of alternatives to the industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) is the use of HFC-134a in aerosols intended for the testing of smoke detectors. There are currently no alternatives with equivalent technical properties to these testers.
An example where available alternatives cannot be used is the granting of exemptions for a limited period to all applicants concerning the use of HFCs in aerosols intended for faultfinding on electrical or electronic products (refrigerant spray) and for the cleaning of the same types of product. The alternatives cannot be used for technical reasons, either because they are flammable or because their use is still associated with major practical problems (e.g. with regard to refilling, size, etc.).
An example of a situation where extraordinary and unreasonable added costs would be incurred when using alternatives which do not use industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) is the granting of a temporary exemption concerning the use of PFC in a special refrigerant which is used as a replacement for an ozone layer-depleting substance in older refrigerant containers, as it would cost around DKK 10,000 to convert each individual refrigerant container to HFC compared with no added costs associated with the use of PFC.
A future example of the same situation involves cases where the installation of refrigeration equipment based on the alternatives to HFC would cause the installer/owner to incur extraordinary and unreasonable added costs if flammable refrigerants cannot be installed in a basement for safety reasons, with the result that the refrigeration system must be placed on the roof of the building. In the case of a built-up area, there may be situations where the system must be placed as far from the place of use as possible (e.g. on top of a tall building), which would make the system unreasonably expensive compared with a similar system which can be placed close to the place of use (e.g. on a low building), so prejudicing competition.
An example where total emissions of industrial greenhouse gases converted to CO2 equivalents would be greater if alternatives to the industrial greenhouse gases (F gases) were to be used is the use of PFC-14 in pressure accumulators in the VW Lupo, Audi A2 and other vehicles (i.e. vehicles with low energy consumption). Such use is necessary in order to enable the accumulators to work, so enabling the vehicles to save energy compared with other vehicles without this special type of accumulator.
GWP (Global Warming Potential) is defined as the quantity of CO2 to which 1 kg of the F gas is equivalent (CO2 equivalents). The most frequently used HFC, HFC-134a, has a Global Warming Potential that is 1,300 times greater than that of CO2. 1 kg HFC is therefore equivalent to 1,300 kg CO2.
Consolidated Act No. 208 of 22 March 2001 on a tax on certain ozone layer-depleting substances and greenhouse gases (Tax on chlorofluorocarbons, halons, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride) as subsequently amended. Available at www.retsinfo.dk .
See the original Danish version of the text above