Climate Change Legislation Affects Potato Stores

Monday 13th November 2017 in

By David Williams, Associate, Reading Agricultural Consultants

The Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) and Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (F-gas) Regulations may not be familiar to most farmers, but they have major impacts on the operation and maintenance of cold storage equipment and chillers used in older crop storage systems.

The ODS Regulations came into force in the UK in March 2015 and set out a number of procedures to limit the leakage of refrigerant gases, particularly those containing hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC’s). They were implemented in stages until the final stage imposed a complete ban on the supply of Freon refrigerant (also known as R22) at the end of 2014.

The F-Gas regulations also came into force in March 2015 and impose mandatory leak testing on commercial refrigeration systems. The frequency of the testing depends on the size of the installation and the quantity of refrigerant that it contains.

One major impact of these regulations is that it is no longer possible to obtain R22 refrigerant to “top up” an old system. This is particularly important since R22 had very convenient properties. The refrigerants that replace R22 need to run at a much higher working pressure than R22, so existing compressors and evaporators need to be replaced in order to use the new gases.

This was the situation in a recent fire insurance claim, where an electrical fire in the plant room of a large potato store had damaged a rubber hose in the 20 year old refrigeration system allowing the R22 refrigerant to escape. Since R22 is no longer available and the replacement refrigerant was not compatible with existing equipment, it was not possible simply to replace the hose and refill with gas. The repair involved replacement of major items of the refrigeration plant.

RAC advised insurance loss adjusters on technical aspects of the claim to justify the cost of the claim, which was much greater than first thought.