Is India ready to implement its grand HPMP Stage-III?
India has worked hard to establish itself as a shining example of sustainability for other developing countries. At the 29th World Ozone Day, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEF&CC) stated that Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are being phased out as per the accelerated schedule of the Montreal Protocol.
HCFC Phase out Management Plan (HPMP) Stage-I has been successfully implemented from 2012 to 2016 and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons Phase out Management Plan (HPMP) Stage-II is currently under implementation from 2017 to 2024 end.
But before the roll-out of the III of the HPMP in 2024, the central government and industry stakeholders must introspect into the continued use of banned, poor-quality refrigerant chemicals to map out a cost-effective, sustainable chemical replacement.
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On September 16, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEF&CC) celebrated the 29th World Ozone Day. An important announcement was made during the celebration regarding new initiatives being taken to prepare for the implementation of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The amendment aims to phase down Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
India has successfully carried out programmes under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer and continues with its efforts to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals in accordance with the phase-out schedule.
The protocol mandates all signature countries to entirely phase out the main Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs), such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, and carbon tetrachloride (CTC), in a certain time frame. This was done on the basis of very clear empirical findings. More ODSs, including methyl bromide and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), have since been added to the Protocol’s list of substances that must be phased out by the specified dates as a result of later investigations.
What is the HCFC Phase Out Management Plan?
The Government of India is implementing the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP) in collaboration with other international organisations and agencies. According to the Montreal Protocol, it is intended to gradually phase out the production and consumption of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in the country.
In order to phase out the usage of HCFCs, India has identified a three-pronged strategy as being essential. First, use energy-efficient machinery and construction to lower the demand for refrigerants. In order to safeguard the ozone layer and improve the climate, HCFCs should be replaced with alternatives that have low or no global warming potential and no ozone-depleting potential. Third, employ alternative technologies that do not rely on Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) that are not equivalent.
Types of refrigerant cooling gases
Chlorine and bromine-based refrigerants are a factor in the ozone layer’s depletion. The warmth induced by a chemical in relation to the warming caused by the same mass of carbon dioxide is known as the global warming potential, or GWP. CFCs as well as HCFCs and HFCs maintain stability in the atmosphere, by which they are often very effective greenhouse gases.
Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants have become more available, however, it’s important to note it may not be possible to use all of them as a retrofit in existing systems because some of them have moderately flammable characteristics.
CO2’s GWP is 1.0 by default. While CFC-11 has a GWP of 5000, CFC-12 has an 8500 GWP. The GWPs of various HCFCs and HFCs range from 93 to 12100. Refrigerants are represented by the letter R (as in Refrigerants) followed by a 2 or 3-digit number and, in some cases, 1 or 2 letters.
The first HFC, R134a, was introduced in refrigeration and air conditioning with great success, as it requires almost no changes in the equipment designed for R22. However, it offers a very limited efficiency, about 40% lower than that obtained with R22.
Therefore, OEMs have two options: either comply with a significant decrease in a system’s thermal capacity or expand the system’s size (and expense) to attain the same capacity. The other chemical of HFC, R407C is thermodynamically comparable to R22 and can be used as a “drop-in” refrigerant. R407C, on the other hand, has a glide of 7 K, which makes it hardly useable in tiny domestic (home) equipment in contrast to R134a, which is a pure compound.
India’s efforts on eliminating HCFC
Other than the Montreal Protocol, India is a signatory to other major global environmental conventions and treaties including, inter alia, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Paris Agreement, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, etc. India has taken ambitious targets in support of global environmental goals like ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for phase down of Hydrofluorocarbons.
In 1992, HCFCs, a fluorocarbon chemical, usage was brought under the ambit of the Montreal Protocol through the Copenhagen Amendment as a substitute for CFC. In 1999, the schedule of phase-out of HCFCs was brought in through the Beijing amendment of the Montreal Protocol.
India was self-sufficient in the production of chemicals like CFCs, CTC, halons and HCFCs., and was mainly producing and using 9 of the 96 substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol i.e., CFC-11, CFC-12, CFC-113, HCFC22 halon-1211, halon-1301, CTC, Methyl Chloroform and Methyl Bromide.
In India, Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are presently being phased out in accordance with the Montreal Protocol’s accelerated timeline. Stage I of the Hydrochlorofluorocarbons Phase Out Management Plan (HPMP) was successfully executed between 2012 and 2016, and Stage II is now being implemented starting in 2017 and will be finished by the end of 2024.
Leading as a shining example of sustainability
The MEF&CC has announced that India was the first developing nation in the world to totally phase out the use of HCFC-141b in the production of rigid foam during the implementation of HPMP Stage-II. The country achieved a reduction of 44% from the baseline as of January 1, 2020, as opposed to the aim of 35%.
“As part of HPMP Stage-III implementation from 2023-2030, phase-out of HCFCs in manufacturing of new equipment will be phased out by 31.12.2024. Implementation of HPMP Stage-III will enable India to achieve compliance with the control targets of HCFCs for the years 2025 and 2030 under the Montreal Protocol. In addition, HPMP Stage-III will result in net direct emission reductions of 19,239,929 tonne CO2 equivalent from 2030 onwards,” Ms. Leena Nandan Secretary, of MEFCC said last week.
The MoEF&CC has set up the Ozone Cell as a National Ozone Unit (NOU) to render necessary services for effective and timely implementation of the Protocol and its ODS phaseout activities in India.
Mr. Vikram Luthra, President, Northern India Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Traders Association (NIRATA) spoke with India Business and Trade on the implementation of Stage III of the HCFC Phase Out Management Plan (HPMP).
“The process (HCFC phase-out) has just started and the government agencies and allied industries are still collecting data on it. What awaits next for the refrigeration and air conditioner industry is something that needs to be clarified by the government. As traders body, we are attending meetings and workshops on the ICAP. But the future planning will be conveyed to us by the Ozone cell only,” Mr. Luthra said.
According to Mr. Luthra, the government is collecting massive data on the usage of refrigerant cooling agents such as R22 and R134a. He says that a workable change of action plan can only be implemented once the government collects data on the consumption of R22 and R134a.
“They (the ministry) are planning to host the next round of discussions in October. As of now, we haven’t received any official confirmation or key points of discussion… The discussions on the implementation of Stage-III HPMP is still restricted to OEMs. Traders are yet to be roped in,” he said.
He believes that collecting data on the usage of HCFC can prove to be difficult since spurious gases for refrigeration are still being used in India and the practice needs to be stopped urgently. Cooling and refrigeration industries remain unclear as to how to go forward with the “grand plan”. Manufacturers of some of the leading chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) chemicals were outlawed in the early 1990s, although they remain in use today in older refrigeration and cooling systems and in foam insulation.
“Till the time these spurious gases are not stopped, we cannot make much progress on the complete phase-out of HCFC. In our country, we still widely use low-quality refrigerant gases,” he added.
Continued dependency on CFC, HCFC and HFC
The market for hydrofluorocarbons is anticipated to grow as a result of the expansion of the cold chain industry and the adoption of IoT-enabled refrigeration systems. The Indian Hydrofluorocarbons Market was valued at US$ 146.40 Million in 2021 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 6.03% to reach US$ 219.44 Million by 2028.
India has phased out the production and consumption of CFCs, CTC and halons as of 1st January, 2010 (except the use of pharmaceutical grade CFCs in the manufacturing of Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs) for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) patients).
The central government appointed the Indian Polyurethane Association (IPUA) and Air-conditioning Manufacturing Association (RAMA), with the responsibility of preparing sectoral strategies in the foam and RAC manufacturing sectors, in close cooperation with the UNDP and Ozone Cell, MoEF&CC.
Industry leaders and associations in India suggest that the government should focus on gathering data about the current use of chemicals like CFC, HCFC, and CTC in industrial and residential settings. This will help identify more sustainable chemical alternatives by analyzing cost-effectiveness.