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Ensuring a Coherent Pathway to Decarbonize EU Buildings

by Alisha Bellezza, President of Thermal & Specialized Solutions at The Chemours Company.

Ensuring a Coherent Pathway to Decarbonize EU Buildings

by Alisha Bellezza, President of Thermal & Specialized Solutions at The Chemours Company.

Published 06-30-22

Submitted by The Chemours Company

a black book with a logo for Opteon 1100 on the cover

Recently, I had the pleasure to travel to Europe and meet with key EU decision-makers and industry leaders to discuss the EU Green Deal agenda, and, in particular, the role the European buildings stock plays in the EU’s 2050 net-zero targets.

My trip coincided with the publication of the REPowerEU Plan, the European Commission’s long-awaited answer to decrease the EU’s dependence on energy imports from Russia. Given the current critical juncture, I strongly believe that accelerating the EU’s decarbonization ambitions is the only way forward if Europe wants to strengthen its energy sovereignty. Speeding up the deployment of renewable energy, including green hydrogen, and increasing energy efficiency, by frontloading the deployment of heat pumps in all buildings, are all part of the solution.

As the President of our Thermal & Specialized Solutions business, I have been keeping a close eye on the EU’s initiatives under the Renovation Wave umbrella. I see a huge potential in the recent proposal to revise the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) for stepping up the efforts to boost building renovations in Europe. As it was pointed to me by Sean Kelly MEP, who is one of the key rapporteurs on the file, improving Europe’s building stock reduces the use of oil and gas used for heating and cooling and drives down overall emissions. This is a double benefit that we need to secure. At the same time, he pointed out the need for the EPBD to be implemented in Member States. He underlined that there is a huge demand for heat pumps and increased recognition of the value they can bring. Similarly, MEP Penkova underlined the need for technology neutrality and the importance of taking into account feasibility of the targets and availability of products and technologies at reasonable prices, as people in some countries are struggling with their budget, now more than ever.

worker in safety gear sprays insulation onto a wall

We at Chemours support ambitious and binding renovation rates for all buildings across the EU. We are in favor of the inclusion of carbon performance into the energy efficiency assessments of buildings, support the broader application of smart devices, the creation of incentives for more efficient heat pumps, and highly efficient thermal insulation of buildings. We also need increased support for vulnerable households to alleviate energy poverty and address soaring energy prices.

But what role does Chemours, a chemical company, play in the decarbonization of buildings, you may ask? Our Thermal & Specialized Solutions segment has unique expertise in fluorochemistry — having invented the refrigerant category nearly a century ago. F-Gas refrigerants are crucial to modern heating and cooling technology, such as heat pumps, and are necessary to advance carbon reduction in buildings. I am proud that Chemours is a market leader in the newest generation of F-Gases, HFOs, with an ultra-low global warming impact.

However, when looking at the steep reduction in the quota allocation foreseen in the recently proposed review of EU’s F-Gas Regulation, I see a lack of coherence between the F-Gas and EPBD discussions. While the revision of F-Gas Regulation is necessary to reduce the use of F-Gases with high-global warming impact, reducing the quota too quickly puts the EU Green Deal goals at risk by undermining our ability to use F-Gases for sustainable heating and cooling. This can increase the risks impacting safety and energy efficiency of the equipment and lead to production delocalization from EU. Furthermore, the quota phase-down is expected to drive even more of the market towards illegally imported gases with high-global warming impact – an issue that already exists with the current regulation.

I was happy to hear from the European Commission  that energy savings and energy security are more important than ever. Indeed, the RePowerEU further accelerates the Green Deal objectives and pathway. We also agree with the Commission when saying that assessing the performance of buildings should include the entire life cycle, i.e. also emissions and resources. Everybody wants to see one coherent body of legislation: so F-GAS and EPBD must work together. It was good to acknowledge that the Commission is open for good and practical ideas over the process.

In order to ensure coherence between the policy objectives of REPowerEU, EPBD, and F-Gases Regulation a closer dialogue between EU policymakers and industry is much needed. It is critical to find the right balance now, in order not to miss the chance to advance a successful and cost-efficient renovation wave without dependence on external actors. The technology is there and we, as a technology leader, are well-positioned to deliver sustainable solutions that will help meet our needs today and into the future.

I want to thank all the leaders, industry experts, and stakeholders that I had the opportunity to meet with recently for the many engaging and productive conversations. I am confident that by working closer together we can establish the building blocks of our cleaner future.

Alisha Bellezza is the President of Thermal & Specialized Solutions (TSS) at The Chemours Company. 

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The Chemours Company

The Chemours Company

The Chemours Company (NYSE: CC) is a global leader in Titanium Technologies, Thermal & Specialized Solutions, and Advanced Performance Materials providing its customers with solutions in a wide range of industries with market-defining products, application expertise and chemistry-based innovations. We deliver customized solutions with a wide range of industrial and specialty chemicals products for markets, including coatings, plastics, refrigeration and air conditioning, transportation, semiconductor and consumer electronics, general industrial, and oil and gas. Our flagship products are sold under prominent brands such as Ti-Pure™, Opteon™, Freon™, Teflon™, Viton™, Nafion™, and Krytox™. The company has approximately 6,200 employees and 28 manufacturing sites serving approximately 2,700 customers in approximately 110 countries. Chemours is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware and is listed on the NYSE under the symbol CC.

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