ATMOsphere 2011 – European supermarkets choose natural working fluids for commercial refrigeration

By team, Oct 17, 2011, 18:54 4 minute reading

In the first End User Panel of ATMOsphere 2011 leading European retailers M&S, Coop Norway, Migros and Carrefour voiced their support for natural refrigerants, presenting their experiences with CO2, ammonia and hydrocarbon commercial refrigeration installations and their future plans for natural refrigerant systems.

Marks and Spencer PLAN A and experiences with alternative refrigerants, Robert Arthur, Refrigeration Technologist
Robert Arthur’s presentation introduced participants to the M&S Plan A strategy, adopted in 2007, which now includes 180 sustainability commitments to be achieved by 2015. Commitment 10.15, pledges M&S to the following:
  • Replace HCFC refrigerants by 201;
  • Extend the replacement of R404a refrigerant with the lower GWP R407a;
  • From 2010 all new installations will use CO2 secondary systems wherever possible – there are currently around 40 such systems installed;
  • Progressively reduce total refrigeration greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2015 – so far M&S has achieved a 30% reduction, taking into account the chain expansion;
  • Remove HFC refrigerants from refrigeration and air conditioning systems by 2030.
Mr Arthur went on to discuss the M&S “learning stores” where available technologies, including natural refrigerants are evaluated. For example at Ecclesall Road Sustainable Learning Store the refrigeration system is a hybrid a CO2 pump distribution system cooled by a primary hydrocarbon system. 
To conclude his presentation Mr Arthur said, “For me one of the biggest challenges is collaboration. It is new technology. There are a lot of individuals here with very specific knowledge, with a very specific understanding of what it is that we are trying to do. If there is no collaboration it is going to be a very painful transition into adopting this new technology.”
Integration of Natural Refrigerants in Coop Norway, Knut Lutnæs, Environmental Manager Coop Norway
Mr Lutnæs began his presentation by providing some background information on EuroCoop and Coop Norway. Today Coop Norway has 125 local cooperatives with around 1000 stores, representing 24% of the market share. The decision to invest in natural refrigerants was driven by several factors: Coop’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy; a project to reduce 38 million kWh across Coop; and the eco-labelling of its stores, where strict energy use and low climate impact effects are mandated. 
Coop Norway now has 60 stores labelled with the Nordic Swan and Coop Extra is the only eco-labelled chain in Norway. Its first natural refrigeration system was installed in 2001, using CO2 and ammonia, and today Coop has 29 stores with transcritical CO2 refrigeration installations. These systems contribute a 15 – 20% energy reduction. 
“We have decided that all new stores and stores requiring major refurbishment will be CO2 transcritical… By now we are looking at a 10% reduction in investment costs compared to conventional systems. So there is no cost issue involved, more or less anymore, which is very appealing… The way forward? We need to improve the interaction of cooling, heating and recovering heat… and we would like to find a solution for CO2 for plug-in cabinets,” concluded Mr Lutnæs.
CO2 as standard refrigerant: Obstacles and lessons learnt from the MIGROS experience, Urs Berger
In his presentation Mr Urs Berger shared the lessons Migros learnt from installing over 150 CO2 refrigeration systems. Migros group has over 600 supermarkets across Switzerland. According to Mr Berger the group’s refrigeration systems cause and release significant amounts of GHGs - the company still has a leakage rate above 5%. This is a key reason behind the retailer’s decision to replace fluorinated refrigerants with CO2 as a standard.
Migros first started using CO2 in 2002. By 2010 CO2 refrigeration systems could be found in 10% of company’s Stores, including 47 transcritical systems. Mr Berger shared the following insights from Migros’ experience with CO2:
  • Some unnecessary components can be removed from CO2 systems; 
  • Store personnel and public authorities must be well trained and informed about natural refrigerants;
  • Training of skilled refrigeration personnel must be improved;
  • There is high potential for heat reclaim 
The rollout and experience of natural refrigerants based technology at Carrefour, Jean-Michel Fleury, Group Assets Project Director, Carrefour Group
Mr Fleury began his presentation with an explanation of the reasoning behind the Carrefour Group decision to introduce non-HFC refrigerants (natural alternatives). “The Executive Committee recognise that this [the increasing contribution to total GHG emissions of HFCs and HCFCs] is a major issue, and that we have to take action,” said Mr Fleury.
The company has already reduced the volume of refrigerants used in the group, but aims to do more. Refrigerant leakage is still an issue, 22% compared with the total gas charge. Carrefour is testing 18 sites using natural refrigerants in France, Italy and Turkey, with two sites using 100% natural working fluids CO2 and ammonia. The company is now preparing to roll-out hybrid CO2/R134 installations, until they feel 100% natural refrigerant solutions have reached maturity.
The Switch to natural refrigerants is an important contributing factor in the Carrefour group’s commitment to reduce energy consumption by 30% in 2020 compared 2004 and emissions of CO2 by 40% in 2015 compared with 2009. Carrefour has targeted CO2 and ammonia as the preferred natural refrigerant solutions.


By team (@r744)

Oct 17, 2011, 18:54

Related stories

Sign up to our Newsletter

Fill in the details below