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Split System Sales Drop For The First Time Since 2006

Australians have spent around $9.3 billion installing refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in 2018 compared to $8.2 billion in 2016, according to the latest updates to Cold Hard Facts 2019 which was released this week.

Published by the Federal Department of Environment and Energy, the Expert Group has updated Cold Hard Facts 2019 with data collected during 2017 and 2018. It is the fourth edition of the Cold Hard Facts series which began in 2006.

The Expert Group found that RAC services in all its forms were delivered by over 56 million individual pieces of equipment in Australia during 2018, compared to 54 million in 2016.

In both 2017 and 2018, an estimated 2 million devices containing around 2,270 tonnes of residual refrigerant reached the end of their useful life.

This included around 120 tonnes of refrigerant in domestic refrigerators and freezers, 1,480 tonnes in air conditioners, 430 tonnes in motor vehicles of all types, and 240 tonnes in commercial refrigeration equipment.

The bank of high GWP refrigerants in Australia increased by five per cent from 2016 to 2018, from around 50,800 tonnes in 2016 to an estimated 53,300 tonnes in 2018.

Analysis of equipment imports confirmed a rapid transition to the use of HFC-32 in small air conditioning systems. In 2018, HFC-32 systems made up 53% of all pre-charged small air conditioning units imported, an increase from 39% in 2016 and up from zero in 2012, the report said.

Sales of small single split system air conditioners in 2018 have seen annual sales soften for the first time since the Cold Hard Facts series began in 2006.

The split system market experienced solid annual growth rates of around five per cent from 2012 to 2018. In 2017 a record number of 1,258,000 single split systems were sold in Australia.

Sales reduced noticeably in 2018 with total sales around 1,158,000; a year-on-year decline of nearly eight per cent. Sales of multi-head systems, and sales of medium air conditioning systems all experienced continued growth through 2017 and 2018.

Leading supermarket chains continue to reduce leaks of high GWP (HFC) refrigerants and lead the way with concerted moves to HFC alternatives.

The emergence of carbon dioxide (CO2) cascade and trans-critical systems in commercial refrigeration saw rapid growth of CO2 systems employed in the cold food chain, although from a low base. Innovation in the use of low-charge ammonia systems added to the highly energy efficient options for new build commercial refrigeration systems with a cooling capacity greater than 50 kWr.

These trends with CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbon refrigerants resulted in the share (in metric tonnes) of the HCFC and HFC refrigerant bank used in the refrigerated cold food chain falling again from 14% in 2016 to 13% in 2018, even though the absolute mass of HCFCs and HFCs employed in the cold food chain increased slightly to around 7,100 metric tonnes.

The refrigerated cold food chain represents 21% of the bank in CO2e terms both in 2016 and 2018. The portion of total electricity consumed by RAC in 2018 was around 24% of all Australian electricity generated.

“Since this research series began the refrigeration and air conditioning industry has become much more complex in terms of the technological options available to meet the growing requirements from users across the economy,” the report said.

“The gradual phase down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is expected to further accelerate innovation and the diversification of refrigerants and refrigeration and air conditioning technology.” Climate Control News

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