New study suggests natural refrigerant technologies outperform fluorinated counterparts

By Janaina Topley Lira, Sep 29, 2014, 19:23 4 minute reading

A new study by Carrier Commercial Refrigeration, developed in partnership with market development company shecco, has found that retailers believe natural refrigerants now outperform traditional HFC systems in terms of efficiency and performance. Designed to identify the key drivers for and against the adoption of sustainable refrigeration and refrigerant options, and understand the impact of legislation, the study found that almost two-thirds of the retailers surveyed now use natural refrigeran

With more than 40% of the average store’s total energy consumption attributable to refrigeration it is no surprise that the study’s North and Western European respondents rated the use of energy-efficient and low-Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants as by far the most important environmental feature to increase a store’s energy efficiency.
Pro-natural refrigerant legislation and increased acceptance natural refrigerant technologies can contribute toward the overarching goals of carbon footprint reduction and increased energy efficiency,” says Thierry Jomard, President, Carrier Commercial Refrigeration, Europe.
Natural refrigerants make business sense: reliability, energy efficiency and ROI on par with HFCs 
The study’s participants, predominantly large food retailers in Germany, France, Denmark, Norway and the UK, appear to believe natural technology makes solid business sense. According to them natural refrigerants now outperform traditional hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) systems in terms of efficiency and performance. What is more, they consider natural refrigerants to have achieved parity with HFCs in terms of return on investment and life-cycle costs. 
The relatively small gap between initial capital cost and investment, whereby these are currently higher for natural refrigerants than for traditional HFC solutions, is likely to be bridged as development gains pace. 
Investment in CO2 systems has to make financial sense, and the price of CO2 installation is becoming more accessible. There is still work to be done, but there is strong evidence that the difference in initial investment cost between CO2 transcritical and traditional systems is coming down,” summarises Nina Masson, Deputy Managing Director, shecco
Retailers prefer hydrocarbons in smaller plug and play units
Among the natural refrigerant options favoured by the study’s food retailers, are CO2 and hydrocarbons, with CO2 emerging as the standard option for centralised systems, and hydrocarbons (HC) for smaller plug-in systems with a charge of less than 150g. The reason for this preference for CO2 in centralised systems is explained by concern that the adoption of HC systems with a refrigerant charge greater than 150 grams would shift more liability and risk potential to the food retailers. 
Retailers well prepared for revised F-Gas Regulation
The change towards natural refrigerants, driven by a combination of market, policy and technology drivers, has strengthened the position of many retailers vis-à-vis the newly revised F-gas agreement. Not only were all respondents were familiar with restrictions on F-gas use, claiming they had already, or would soon, implement appropriate strategies, but 65% of respondents said the F-gas agreement would have no impact on their current refrigeration strategy as they have already begun implementing alternatives in new stores and systems. 
We welcome the strong push by the European Union to use natural refrigerants for refrigeration. The technology for food retail applications already exists to enable a smooth transition to non-HFC refrigeration well before 2022,” states Christoph Brouwers Director Mechanical Systems Programs, Carrier Commercial Refrigeration, Europe
Future challenges 
According to the study, food retailers would also welcome a higher diversity of technology solutions offered by the supplying industry, to better familiarise themselves with the options. 
Another key challenge will be to carry the momentum forward to a point where natural refrigerant technology is within reach of smaller convenience stores and food retailers in southern Europe. The signs are encouraging that this second tipping point may not be far away. First trials already underway in Spain, which combine hydrocarbon mechanical subcoolers with CO2 transcritical centralised refrigeration systems.
About Carrier
Carrier is one of the world’s largest providers of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions. It manufactures refrigerated cases for chilled and frozen food as well as refrigeration systems for industrial and commercial uses. Carrier's CO2OLtec solution is being used in more than 300 supermarkets for LT application and nearly 600 supermarkets for both MT and LT application in both cascade and booster system design.

About shecco
For more than a decade market development expert shecco has been active in helping bring climate friendly technologies faster to market. shecco supports over 100+ partners worldwide in the HVAC&R sector, where the focus is on sustainable refrigeration, heating & cooling technologies using natural refrigerants. shecco offers a variety of services in three areas: 1) media & publications, including online industry platforms and a catalogue of dedicated research reports; 2) business development, including market research, consultancy and public affairs services, as well as special international projects; and 3) events, including international conferences and national workshops. 


By Janaina Topley Lira

Sep 29, 2014, 19:23

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