CFC Response Sluggish

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Close to a year since the Ministry of Trade and Industry introduced an incentive scheme for the conversion of cooling installations from chloroflouro-carbons (CFCs) to non-CFCs-based technology, the response has been very slow. Since the introduction of the scheme in May 2005, only six installations have been converted. CFCs are substances that drive or act as fuel for systems such as cooling installations, asthma pumps, deodorant spray cans, dry cleaning and mattress-making processes. Countries worldwide, according to the Montreal Protocol, can only use CFCs which are ozone depleting substances (ODS) until 2010, but Namibia wants to phase out their use in three years’ time (2008). CFCs are harmful to the environment because they contain chlorine, which destroys the ozone layer. The ministry secured financial assistance from GTZ Proklima to the tune of N$1 million through which the ozone office could cover 60 percent of conversion costs of refrigeration and air-conditioning installations to non-CFC based technology. It is estimated that there are close to 200 cooling and refrigeration systems still running on CFCs especially in schools, hospitals, tourist resorts and Ministry of Defence institutions. Apart from public installations, the private sector also has systems running on CFCs in shops. But up to date, only six installations comprising of five in Hardap and one on a farm in the Omaheke Region have had their installations converted. The cost of converting the installations varies depending on the size ranging from N$2 000 to more than N$3 000. Petrus Uugwanga, ozone project coordinator, said although his office did not quite know why the response has been very slow, he suspected that people were still comfortable with the systems since they are still in good working condition. “They just don’t want to touch the system which is running perfectly,” he said yesterday. The aim of the conversion project is to prepare the market for the 2010 deadline, when CFCs will not be available anymore. In January 2005, a law that requires all people importing CFCs to be registered with the MTI to get permits was put in place, while all equipment designed to use CFCs have already been banned to protect the market. To be considered for the incentive scheme, the installation (cold room or freezer room) should meet two criteria, namely, it must have a charging capacity of 5kg and above CFC 12, and it should not be older than 12 years. Uugwanga explained that installations older than 12 years were not eligible for conversion because 18 years is the average lifespan of the equipment and considering them for conversion would not make any economic sense. Applicants are encouraged to apply to the ministry indicating the charge capacity of the installation to be converted, the age of the installation to be converted, the age of that specific installation, the type of refrigeration presently in the system, specific cooling requirements if there are any, as well as an attached quotation. Meanwhile, the Ozone Office has provided assistance to the vocational training colleges for them to include the element of conversion in their training programme. Uugwanga said the office also provided equipment to be used for recovering and recycling.