GUIDE: HCs in over 1000 plug-in units, making inroads across North America

By Janaina Topley Lira, Apr 02, 2013, 18:50 3 minute reading

With leading consumer good brands like The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Danone, and Unilever committing to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the number of hydrocarbon refrigerant light commercial units has risen to over 1000, according to shecco’s North American GUIDE. Although industry experts remain divided about future market development prospects, the number of HC installations is undoubtedly on the rise.

Results from shecco’s 2012 North American Natural Refrigerant Industry Survey, published in the “GUIDE 2013: Natural Refrigerants - North America’s Market Potential” reveal mixed views regarding the current business and policy climate.

Respondent agreement with the “rather negative” or “very negative” option regarding the evolution of the business and policy climate was particularly high for hydrocarbons, with 48% thinking that the current situation was unsatisfactory. However, the evidence presented in other sections of the GUIDE such as the ecosystems and market forecasts points towards an ever-increasing number of hydrocarbon applications across Canada, Mexico and the US.
Domestic refrigeration market for HCs gets off the starting blocks in North America
In Mexico, Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte BSH Mexico began marketing hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerators back in 2009. At the time domestic HC refrigerators were prevented from entering the US market due to flammability concerns. This situation finally changed in 2011, when the US EPA, under the significant new alternatives policy (SNAP) program, approved three hydrocarbon refrigerants R290, R600a, and R441a (a hydrocarbons blend also known as HCR188C) as acceptable substitutes in household and small commercial, stand-alone refrigerators and freezers. Since then, GE introduced the first isobutene refrigerator to the US market, under the brand name Monogram.
HCs in light commercial refrigeration – more than 10% market share by 2020
Out of 162 respondents to shecco’s North America Natural Refrigerant Survey, 66% believe the market share of hydrocarbons will have reached more than 5% by 2015. This number grows to 77% by 2020, when 39% say the market share has the potential to be even larger than 20%.
Investments in HC vending machines and ice cream coolers by large consumer brands confirm these market projections. For example, in 2010 PepsiCo installed 35 hydrocarbon bottle cooler units throughout Miami. In February 2012 Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s jointly announced that they planned to roll out 700 hydrocarbon refrigerant ice cream freezer cabinets in the US within the year. Danone has 1,000 coolers using hydrocarbon technology in a number of countries, including Mexico. 
HCs in commercial refrigeration - more than 5% market share by 2020
According to the North American GUIDE, a propylene glycol based heat-transfer fluid is being used in a refrigeration system for meat and dairy products, and other medium-temperature foods in Wal-Mart’s experimental supercenter store in Aurora, Colorado. Also, since 2009, Fresh and Easy has been deploying self-contained coffin freezer cases (from AHT Cooling systems, an Austrian company with US offices in Hanahan, S .C.) throughout the chain, and in 2011 began trialling propane cases. 
Whilst there are examples of HC use in the commercial refrigeration sector, according to the industry experts surveyed by shecco, the overall number of HC installations remains low, thought to be in the “0- 5%” market share range. By 2020, things pick up, with 42% of respondents estimating that their use will grow to more than a 10% market share. 
Industrial Refrigeration – positive experiences with R1270 chillers
Although 70% of the 110 industrial experts say the market share of hydrocarbons is less than 10% today in the industrial refrigeration sector, a clear majority (55%) indicate that hydrocarbons have the potential to account for more than 5% market share by 2015, and 35% of experts believe hydrocarbons’ market share will be larger than 10% by 2020. Already fruit growing companies such as US-based Lake Breeze have reported positive experiences after using the SRS (secondary refrigerant systems) incorporated in R1270 chillers.
Large market potential for HCs in stationary air conditioning
Examples of hydrocarbon stationary air conditioning systems can be found in Mexico where cinemas such as Cinépolis, bowling alley Bolerama TEC, Pizza Hut, and Telmex, one of the country's largest telecom companies, have all recently invested in HC installations. Furthermore, the North American GUIDE reports that over half of survey respondents believe the market share of HC technology solutions will be larger than 10% by 2020. 


By Janaina Topley Lira

Apr 02, 2013, 18:50

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