A cut in quota has seen the price of some refrigerants, including automotive R134a, increase dramatically, with a fourfold YOY rise being reported
The reduction in the amount of gas available on the market is part of a European drive to reduce the amount of harmful gas in the atmosphere. It applies to various refrigerants used in supermarket chillers etc, but it is R134a that those in the aftermarket will notice the most.
The reason for the quotas is that the gas has a high ‘global warming potential’ (GWP) figure of 1430. This means that one gramme of R134a is equivalent to 1.43 kilos of CO2. Depending on how figures are calculated, the amount of gas in the market is around 50 percent of what it was in 2015 when the quota was introduced.
Future pricing levels remain uncertain and will be dependent on supply levels and external factors such as the weather. Simon Ravenscroft, RSM at gas supplier National Refrigerants said: “Pricing is impossible to predict. This year has seen almost a 40 percent cut in the quota so given a warm spring or summer and high demand, the pricing will of course reflect that”
“The bigger issue at hand is if we have a sustained hot summer this year demand will simply outstrip availability and the problem will no longer be price but whether or not you can actually get it” he warned.
As the quota system is going to get tighter, the situation will not be resolved anytime soon. As such, there are a number of technicians on internet forums wondering if R134a systems can be converted to be filled with the far more environmentally friendly R1234yf. “You would have to ask the compressor manufacturer or the VM – there is an issue that R1234yf is classified as flammable so could mean the compressor is not suitable” said Mr. Ravenscroft.