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High-le­vel Cli­ma­te Ac­tion in Co­lom­bia

17.03.2023 , News :

German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck visits the RAC Training Center SENA in Colombia where various GIZ Proklima projects support the training of refrigeration and air conditioning technicians.  

(opens enlarged image) Laura Acosta /GIZ Colombia
Robert Habeck (middle) with (from left to right) Pedro Rodriguez Sandova (SENA), Birgit Schwenk (BMWK), the German ambassador to Colombia, Marian Schuegraf, Maria Velez Rincon (giz), Elena Fernandez (giz), Carlos Alfonso Mayorga Prieto (SENA) and the National Ozone Officer in the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MinAmbiente), Leydy Maria Suarez.

"I find it extraordinary what you are doing in training and capacity building in this sector; I am glad to see all this commitment that young people have here, because with their work they avoid, no doubt, the leakage of harmful substances refrigerant gases."

said Robert Habeck the German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and Vice Chancellor, during his visit of the Colombian National Training Service (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje, SENA).

The purpose of this first point on his agenda in Colombia was to visit the training center specialized in training refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) technicians. During the visit, SENA and GIZ Proklima demonstrated the importance of a sustainable transformation of the refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) sector with natural refrigerants. RAC technicians have the most climate relevant job with the highest climate impact: each room air conditioner causes up to 2 tons of CO 2 eq emissions during normal operation and insufficient maintenance – every year. In 2021, the refrigeration sector was responsible for 7% of global GHG emissions (compared to all air traffic for only 2%). Additionally, improper handling of cooling systems and refrigerants results in safety and health risks, increased energy consumption and negative impacts on the climate and the ozone layer. Well-trained and experienced technicians are therefore crucial to handle the growing number and variety of cooling appliances in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

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GIZ Proklima has been working with the Colombian Ministry for Environment and Sustainable Development (Minambiente) and its National Ozone Unit (UTO) since 2012. Over the last years, GIZ Proklima on behalf of different German ministries donated demonstration units, tools and equipment to the center, e.g. the appliances purifying refrigerant gases to minimize their impact on the environment. "We are particularly grateful to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development for the support and the possibility of carrying out projects hand in hand with the German cooperation in the refrigeration sector. Working together has been a great experience", said Carlos Mayorga Prieto of SENA.

Refrigerant Gas Reclamation Center

Within the ODS Banks (opens in a new window) Project, GIZ and Minambiente carried out activities aimed at evaluating alternatives for the correct end-of-life management of the cooling appliances and refrigerants. These included the recovery of the refrigerant gas, the dismantling of the equipment and recovery of the extracted materials, and reclamation of the recovered refrigerant.

One activity carried out with the SENA was the installation of a reclaim unit. SENA’s reclaim center is member of the National Refrigerant Recovery, Recycling and Reclaim Network of Colombia. With this unit, used refrigerants gas mixture4 can be cleaned to comply with international AHRI standards again so that they can be used again.

Further, GIZ and SENA procured: 

  • Demonstration units for training in the use of natural refrigerants (CO2 and ammonia) and eight split ACs (propane).
  • Tools and equipment for installation and maintenance of RAC equipment. 
  • Detectors and standard gases for the correct detection of leaks in RAC equipment.
  • Safety and personal protective equipment for the use of natural refrigerants (CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbons).

With this technology, SENA certifies between500 and 800 refrigeration technicians each year, trains them in the safe handling of natural refrigerants, and thus provides them with significant competitive advantages in the labor market.

"The training is very good, since SENA focuses on hands-on training. […] The units donated by Germany seem interesting to me because they teach us how to take care of the environment, since in the refrigeration system we keep many types of gases that harm it."

Leidy Johanna Saenz - apprentice technician at the SENA center.

At his visit, the German Minister was accompanied by the German ambassador to Colombia, Marian Schuegraf, the National Ozone Officer in the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MinAmbiente), Leydy Maria Suarez; and the director of promotion of Corporate Relations at SENA, Carlos Alfonso Mayorga Prieto.

Through their holistic training approach, SENA continues to contribute to the National Development Plan of the Colombian Government and the environmental protection. The visit demonstrated that training technicians in best practices in the RAC sector reduces the negative impact of refrigeration and air conditioning on the ozone layer and the climate.

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