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Phasing out refrigerating gas may hit Indian industry

business Updated: May 04, 2015 23:41 IST
Chetan Chauhan/M Rajendran
refrigerating gas

India’s proposal to phase out refrigerating gas may have provided a fillip to global negotiations, but the domestic industry has apprehensions over the transition cost and the implications for the growing sector.

Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) are primarily used in refrigerators, vehicle air conditioners and small scale industries as most of the home air-conditioners have moved to more efficient hydrocarbons (HC). It is proposed that HFCs be replaced with the costlier hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs).

Samir Arora of Industrial Foams Limited, expressed concern over the efficacy of HFOs for small scale industries, at a United-Nations conference in Bangkok last week about doing away with HFCs.

HFC emission is estimated to grow at 18% per annum, with India’s HFC emission load expected to increase 10 times by 2050 compared to its 2010 level — second only to China by then. While replacing HFCs with HFOs may seem environmentally prudent, the costlier chemical could drain the domestic industry. Moreover, HFOs have not been tested in hot countries such as India.

Amit Maheshwari, director marketing of Carrier Air Conditioning & Refrigeration said the transition would be a challenge as energy-efficient alternatives did not exist for all applications.

However, other domestic players were positive about the transition. “This is the next generation refrigerant. It also provides 1.6 times more cooling than the existing refrigerants and we have started working on it,” said Kanwan Jeet Jawa, MD, Daikin India.

Another concern was that the Montreal Protocol — an international treaty to protect the ozone layer — provides financial incentives only to the chemical industry and not to the component makers who will also have to tweak their manufacturing line to suit the replacement. This is the reason the automobile industry has resisted the phasing out.

Both India and the US have advocated that the deadline for the phasing out process be 2050 for the developing world and 2035 for the rich nations.