HFC-Emissions from the Maritime, Rail, and Aircraft Sector

November 2007
Prepared for the European Commissions (DG Environment) 07010401/2006/445124/MAR/C4
Winfried Schwarz
Jan-Martin Rhiemeier

This report on behalf of the European Commission, DG Environment, presents initial findings on the environmental relevance of fluorinated refrigerant emissions from the maritime, railway and aircraft sectors, and on options to reduce these emissions.


  1. In registers of EU states, there are approx. 9,000 sea-going merchant ships with air-conditioning and - to a smaller extent - provision cooling operational in 2006. Fishing vessels with small-sized refrigeration numbered 7,500, and large fishing vessels with freezing equipment onboard amounted to 700. R-22 was still the mostly used refrigerant; HFCs have been applied first from 2000 onwards. Consequently, the refrigerant stock in the EU maritime sector consists only partially of HFCs (25%), amounting to 775 metric tons (1,191 kilotons CO2 equivalent), thereof 80% in merchant ships and 15% in fishing vessels, and 5% in inland ships. The prevailing HFC-type is R-134a with an 85% share, followed by R-404A/R507.
  1. The rolling stock of the EU railway-, tram-, and metro operators amounted to 175,000 units. Approx. 65,000 of them were equipped with air-conditioners, charged with R-134a (75%) or R-407C (25%); chlorine-containing refrigerants are no longer in use. The HFC stock in these vehicles totalled 1,180 metric tons (1,605 kt CO2 eq).
  1. In the aircraft sector an HFC stock of only five to seven metric tons is estimated. The HFC emissions amount to 0.4 tons or 500 tons CO2 equivalent.
  1. In the maritime sector, the emission factor for air conditioning and refrigeration systems with direct expansion is very high, estimated at 40% per year. Even in indirect systems, a loss of 20% per year is common. Consequently, HFC emissions from ships amounted to 232 metric tons or 361 kilotons CO2 equivalent.
  1. Leakage rates of air-conditioning systems of rail vehicles are much lower, with 5% per year for the vast majority of the vehicles. Therefore, although the HFC stock in the rail sector is larger than in the maritime sector, 2006 emissions from rail vehicles are only a quarter of the maritime sector, namely 63.6 metric tons or 86.5 kilotons CO2 equivalent.
  1. In order to forecast 2020 emissions pursuant to a business-as-usual scenario, the 2001-2006 trend in HFC application is assumed to continue unaltered over the remaining fourteen years, for each category of ships and rail vehicles. This assumption includes ammonia continues to constitute half the refrigerants in new-built fishing vessels. Under these circumstances, the 2020 emissions from the maritime sector will amount to 1,141 kilotons CO2 equivalent, and the HFC emissions from the rail sector will figure 174 kilotons CO2equivalent.


Figure: HFC emissions from the maritime and the railway sector in the EU-27, 2006
The maritime sector releases a multiple of the rail sector to the atmosphere because of the very high emission factor of ship systems. This indicates the necessity of containment measures to emission reduction particularly in the maritime sector.



  1. Regulation (EC) No 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer (June 2000) bans the use of HCFCs like R-22 from 1 January 2015. Under business-as-usual conditions, the transition from R-22 to HFCs will not be completed then in the maritime sector because R-22 had been used for new vessels up to 2001. A general and fast R-22 phase-out, meeting the law, leads to additional emissions of 552 kt CO2 equivalent, compared with the 2020 business-as-usual scenario. As a consequence, the total 2020 emissions from the maritime sector grow from 1,141 to 1,693 kt CO2 equivalent, while the rail sector emissions remain at 174 kt.
  1. For comparison: We estimate the 2020 HFC emissions from the EU-27 passenger car fleet at roughly 20 million t CO2 equivalent (not considering the HFC-134a phase-out). The maritime sector is expected to contribute 5 percent of the passenger car emissions. The 1.14 million tons from the maritime sector exceed the combined HFC emissions from air-conditioned buses and trucks. Rail vehicles will contribute 0.8% of the global warming emissions from all mobile air conditioners in the EU-27.
  1. The analysis of options and costs of emissions reduction shows different results for the rail vehicles sector and for the two maritime sub-sectors merchant ships and fishing vessels.
  • 9.1 In rail vehicles, additional efforts on HFC refrigerant containment are not expected to lead to significant emissions reduction because of the relatively small refrigerant charges and comparatively leak tight systems. So far, a changeover to natural refrigerants like CO2is costly and only partially compensated by the achievable reduction in HFC emissions and energy consumption. Present-day abatements costs in the rail sector amount to approx. € 1,000 per tonne CO2 equivalent.
  • 9.2 Key abatement option for merchant ships is limitation of the high leakage. By implementation of basic maintenance by trained staff and regular service by external experts, a significant reduction in HFC emissions is considered possible. As a result of these elementary measures, which include further containment measures like leak detection, use of control software, etc, approx. 30% of the overall HFC emissions or 339 kilo tonnes CO2 equivalent could be saved at less than € 100 per tonne.
  • 9.3 The forecast 2020 HFC emissions of 275 kilotons CO2 equivalent from the fishery sector can be reduced in a cost effective way by extended use of the refrigerant ammonia in large vessels. Assuming that not only 50% of the new-built vessels with refrigerant charges over 1,000 kg but all new vessels over 1,000 kg are equipped with ammonia instead of HFCs, 125 kilotonnes CO2 equivalent can be saved inexpensively because additional invest costs are compensated by lower operating costs due to less energy consumption. A further reduction of 20 kilotons CO2 equivalent is possible at moderate cost by application of containment measures to medium sized vessels with refrigerant charges of from 100 to 1,000 kg.
  1. It is understood that all emission reduction measures presented in this report like any measures that involve financial expenses will be implemented easier if they are regulated by legislation.