Other countries are moving to regulate SF6 in a variety of different ways. In some cases, use of SF6 is impacted under sweeping regulations that apply to all fluorocarbons. In other cases, the regulatory requirements are specific to SF6.
SF6 Regulations in Asia
In January of 2019 Japan submitted its Fourth Biennial Report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including an estimate of GHG emissions broken down by sector. SF6 emissions in CY 2017 (the latest year on record in the report) were 2.1 MtCO2e which represented an 83.4% decrease from CY 1990. The report mainly credits enhancements in gas recovery and management systems within the electric utilities sector for this reduction.
Japan has no laws that restrict the use of SF6 in the power sector, or that require emissions tracking and reporting. Instead, Japan’s power equipment manufacturers and electric utilities formed a voluntary action plan in the late 1990’s to: 1) reduce emissions throughout the SF6 life cycle; 2) establish and promote recycling; 3) improve SF6 inventory tracking; and 4) develop alternative insulation technologies.
South Korea’s Third Biennial Report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reports an increase of 6000 ktCO2e between 1990 and 2016 in SF6 emissions reported. This dramatic increase was likely due to the rapid growth of various technology manufacturing subsectors within the country over that time period, requiring build-out of greater electrical infrastructure. Among these was the growth of the semi-conductor industry, which also uses SF6 in its processes. It is important to note that from 2010 (the highest recorded level of emissions) to 2016, emissions were reduced by 40%.
South Korea implemented a GHG Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015, which includes SF6. Drawing from an emissions baseline of 2011-2013 levels, Phase 1 (2015-2017) entailed 100% free allocations for most sectors; Phase 2 (2018 – 2020) entailed 97% of total allowance supply; and Phase 3 (2021-2025) will entail less than 90% free allowances.
China’s Second Biennial Update Report on Climate Change has little information on SF6 emissions, and the information listed is only pertinent to the Industrial Sector. However, since the 2018 report was issued, China is now considering new regulations or standards to reduce SF6 usage and emissions.
 Japan’s Fourth Biennial Report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. December 2019, pg 12.
 SF6 Emission Reduction from Gas Insulated Electrical Equipment in Japan; Mr. Hiroshi Yasutake, The Federation of Electric Power Companies, Mr. Masanari Meguro, The Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association. 2001, pg. 2.
 The Third Biennial Update Report of the Republic of Korea under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. November 2019.
 Korea Emissions Trading Scheme, International Carbon Action Partnership
 The People’s Republic of China Second Biennial Update Report on Climate Change. December 2018.
Asia Summary (87 KB)
SF6 EU Regulations
In 2014 the European Commission passed Regulation No 517/2014, commonly known as the “2014 F-gas Regulation.” The new regulation repealed and replaced its 2006 predecessor and included some updated requirements for the use of SF6 in electrical switchgear. The Regulation includes requirements for products and sectors outside the power industry, as well as for all hydrofluorocarbons, but the information below focuses only on the requirements for SF6 as used in electrical switchgear. Each EU Member State has implemented the requirements according to its own sets of procedures, which may vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
The Regulation defines electrical switchgear as “switching devices and their combination with associated control, measuring, protective and regulating equipment, and assemblies of such devices and equipment with associated interconnections, accessories, enclosures and supporting structures, intended for usage in connection with the generation, transmission, distribution and conversion of electric energy.” In general, operators of electrical switchgear (including other gas-insulated equipment such as circuit breakers and gas-insulated substations) are required to take all reasonable measures to prevent emissions, including timely repair. Specific requirements can be broken down into four categories.
Operators of electrical switchgear that contain an amount of SF6 with a CO2e of five tons (~0.47 lbs of SF6) or more must be checked for leaks at specific intervals of 24, 12, 6 or 3 months, depending on the amount of SF6 and certain other parameters. Hermetically sealed equipment has the same requirement, but only if the collective amount is 10 tons (~0.94 lbs of SF6) or greater of CO2e. Switchgear with 500 tons (~47 lbs of SF6) or more of CO2e and installed prior to January 1, 2017 must have a leak detection system capable of alerting the operator or service company of any leakage.
Record keeping requirements
Operators of switchgear that is required to be checked for leaks must maintain separate records for each piece of such equipment. Among other information, the records must include quantities of gas added or recovered during installation, maintenance and recovery; and dates and results of leak checks.
Training and Certification requirements
EU Member states must establish or adapt certification programs to ensure proper training for individuals/companies that will be performing installation, servicing, maintenance, repair or decommissioning of equipment, and recovery of SF6 gas. SF6 recovery must be performed by individuals or companies that hold the relevant certificates to ensure that the recovered gas is properly recycled, reclaimed or destroyed.
Electrical switchgear must be labeled as containing SF6. The label must also include the mass of SF6 and CO2 equivalent of the gas contained in the equipment or that the equipment is designed to contain. Hermetically sealed equipment must be labelled as such, and if the equipment has a tested leak rate of less than 0.1% per year that must also be on the label.
The European Commission is currently reviewing the F-gas Regulation to evaluate how well the Regulation has functioned and to analyze policy options to improve the Regulation going forward.
SF6 EU Regulations (70 KB)