ATMO Japan: Subsidies seen driving NatRef uptake

Leading end users in Japan told ATMOsphere Japan 2018 that subsidies are supporting natural refrigerant uptake.

ATMO Japan 2018: ‘Future of the Industry’ end user panel

End users speaking at today’s ATMOsphere Japan 2018 conference, held at the Tokyo Conference Center Shinagawa, argued that government subsidies have played a central role in increasing natural refrigerant uptake in Japan over the past few years.

“When natural refrigerant subsidies became available, this had a very favourable effect for us,” Katsuya Miki from Japanese retailer NARA COOP told the conference’s ‘Future of the Industry End User Panel’.

Miki detailed the energy savings seen from several natural refrigerant installations at COOP stores around Japan which were funded by subsidies from the government.

Joining Miki on the panel was Haruko Kanamaru of food retailer AEON Co. Ltd., Koji Inoue of food and chemicals retailer Ajinomoto, Shigekatsu Koganemaru of Yoshio Ice Manufacturing Refrigeration, and Shinichirou Uto of Lawson, another food retailer.

Co-chairing the panel was Ignacio Gavilan, sustainability director for the Consumer Goods Forum, which brings together over 400 manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods worldwide.

Shigekatsu Koganemaru, president of Yoshio Ice Manufacturing Refrigeration, spoke of growing awareness of the need to move away from Freon gas and hailed the effectiveness of subsidies in his local market of Fukuoka.

“People do understand the need to make the shift. Even among small to medium-sized enterprises,” said Koganemaru.

"The subsidies helped us a lot, for the implementation of natural refrigerant systems," he added.

Koganemaru, who is also the chairman of the Refrigeration Safety Association in Fukuoka prefecture, said that R22 is still used by more than 60% of the association’s member companies.

He stressed the industry’s readiness to adopt natural refrigerants if costs become more competitive.

"We already know that if the size and performance of natural refrigerant systems are the same compared to Freon systems – and if we can solve the initial cost barrier, we are ready to implement it. That's my message," said Koganemaru.

The subsidies helped us a lot, for the implementation of natural refrigerant systems."
– Shigekatsu Koganemaru, president, Yoshio Ice Manufacturing Refrigeration

Though initial costs were identified as the main barrier for end users, several members of the panel remained optimistic that this could be overcome with increased cooperation.

Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Japan discussed the creation of a local refrigeration working group to help encourage collaboration and tailor solutions to fit specific Japanese needs.

"Introducing natural refrigerants should not be something only the big companies do,” said Haruko Kanamaru of AEON Co. Ltd. and member of CGF Japan.

“Industry players and experts need to work together to share knowledge to address the challenges that we face. So please join our working group and let's move forward together."

By Devin Yoshimoto

Feb 13, 2018, 15:25

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