Technology // 69
“Around 2008, we decided to go for natural refrigerants in light of recent developments at that time,” David Guthörl, head of the ‘Energy/CO 2 Sustainability Unit’ at Swiss retailer Coop, told Accelerate Europe. “Plug-in units [or so - called ] water- loop systems as they are known today were no option because they did not exist in this form,” he says. Nearly half of Coop Switzerland’s supermarket portfolio (400 of 850) uses CO 2 as the sole refrigerant, the company stated in 2017. “These days, hydrocarbon plugin units are still used to complement CO 2 technology, for example, in conjunction with remote cabinets, due to the flexibility which those systems provide,” Guthörl explains. Collin Bootsveld, a project engineer at Belgium’s Colruyt Group, says: “Water-loop systems with a very small, water-cooled cooling system on top of the cabinet were not available for our needs in 2015.” The retailer has opted for propane chillers in its stores in Belgium and CO 2 remote systems in its Colruyt prix-qualité stores (one of the brand names under which the Colruyt Group operates in France).
CO2 transcritical on the march Many of Europe’s leading retailers – including Sainsbury’s, Carrefour S.A., METRO AG, Coop, Transgourmet, Aldi Süd, Recheio and Ahold Delhaize (see previous editions of Accelerate Europe) – have already opted for CO 2 transcritical to service most of the refrigeration needs in their stores, sometimes in conjunction with free-standing hydrocarbon cabinets. Europe is estimated to have 14,000+ supermarkets with CO 2 transcritical technology, according to research by shecco’s market development arm sheccoBase.
First-mover advantage In view of the Emerson report’s conclusion that hydrocarbon solutions can be more efficient, what may have motivated these retailers’ decision to go for CO 2? In economics, ‘first mover advantage’ refers to when a company gets an advantageous and perhaps unbeatable market position by being the first to market. In some ways CO 2 is a commercial refrigeration success story in this regard. Retailers looking for a sustainable, energy-efficient solution settled on CO 2 remote racks as they were suited to the size of their supermarkets and were available commercially at the time they started to make the transition away from HFCs. Some re taile rs say that the hydrocar bon - based commercial refrigeration equipment available at the time was not capable of servicing entire stores when they made the decision to adopt natural refrigerants.
Summer 2018 // Accelerate Europe
“We are looking for solutions for our small [Belgian] store format (OKay Compact). Integral cabinets with a water loop are an option,” Bootsveld notes. ‘First mover’ commercialisation plays an important role here. “By early 2017, it is thought there were almost [...] 700,000 hydrocarbon integral units. The number of stores wholly converted to hydrocarbon integrals with watercooled loops is much smaller, estimated at around 500 today, but is growing,” states the Emerson report. AHT Cooling Systems GmbH, for its part, is a leading manufacturer of self- contained units in the supermarket and ice-cream sectors. “800,000 of our propane-based units have been installed in supermarkets worldwide,” says Reinhold Resch, vice-president (R&D) at AHT. “700,000 of these are in Europe.”
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