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New CARB Regulations Push Rise in Demand for Natural Refrigerants

By Published On: February 8, 2021

The new California Air Resources Board (CARB) refrigerant regulations approved in December 2020 are expected to lead to increased adoption of natural refrigerants in the industry. Given the nature of the new regulations, which encourage the use of refrigerants with a low Global Warming Potential (GWP), natural refrigerants fit the bill.

The new CARB regulation is in accordance with CARB’s goal to reduce HFC emissions by 40% below 2013 levels by 2030. This will affect the industrial refrigeration and food retail industry, especially supermarkets and grocery stores. Likewise, the new regulation will also put limitations on GWP use on ice rinks and cold storage warehouses.

Summary of the New Refrigerant Regulations

While everyone should consult with a knowledgeable professional about whether and how the regulations apply to a specific business, some general information follows:

Facility Type GWP Limit and Timeline
New stores and remodeled facilities with new refrigeration systems. New equipment will be required to use a refrigerant with GWP less than 150 starting 2022.
Existing retail food facilities (retailers with 20 or more stores) Maintain refrigerant average GWP below 2,500 or reduce GWP by 25% by 2026.   Company-wide reduction targets: should achieve average GWP below 1,400 or reduce emissions by 55% by 2030.
Existing non-retail facilities New systems in existing facilities used in industrial refrigeration: GWP limit is between 1,500 and 2,200.   Ice rinks: GWP limit is at 750.   Cold storage: GWP limits are at 1,500.

It’s Time for Natural Refrigerants

Natural refrigerants are safe for the environment, and their low GWP potential makes them the best fitting alternative refrigerant in the market. With CARB’s new refrigerant regulation requirements, natural refrigerants will play a big role in its success. In the near future, many retailers will be obligated to invest in natural refrigerant-based technology to comply with CARB regulations pushing its increased adoption. Natural refrigerants like Carbon Dioxide which is widely used in transcritical systems are poised to be one of the leading substitute refrigerants for supermarkets. Propane is also an alternative refrigerant used for some self-contained mobile island display cases, and is expected to see a rise in popularity all over the country.

Aside from the expected rise in demand for natural refrigerants, these new CARB regulations will challenge retailers of different formats. It is good to note though that while there may be bumps ahead due to these new proposed regulations, there are OEMs like Hillphoenix that are extremely knowledgeable and well equipped to help retailers navigate through these challenges.