Europe is ready for CO2 refrigeration- Exclusive interview with Torben Hansen, Advansor

By Huiting Jia, Nov 22, 2012, 15:45 5 minute reading

At the ATMOsphere Europe 2012 conference in November 2012, spoke to Torben Hansen about Advansor’s strategy for the rollout of CO2 transcritical systems. Mr Hansen described the current situation and future prospects for CO2 transcritical technology in Germany, France, UK, Switzerland, Poland and the US. Could you please give us a basic picture of the market of CO2 transcritical technology in Europe? How do you see the market now?
Hansen: The market is holding back a little. I think retailers are waiting for the new F-Gas Regulation to see how their competitors are doing and to see how their competitors are performing not only with regards to refrigeration but also with regards to the normal commercial daily business. 
At the moment, we have seen two of the bigger retailers in Europe suffering from the worldwide economy. So that has an impact on their total investment and what we see is that there are fewer new stores and more renovation and refurbishment projects.  So in 2012 things are slowing down a little. But if you read the textbook this is very normal for new technologies in their first move up. Do you see a similar “holding back” attitude for CO2 refrigeration technology in places other than Northern Europe? 
Hansen: Advansor is active in Europe as well as North America. In the North American market, this is our first year and it will definitely pick up. If the market picks up in North America, it will be to an extent that it will exceed our manufacturing capacity in Europe. We are already prepared for manufacturing of the systems in the U.S. using U.S. standards and U.S. suppliers. Moreover, European retailers are also active in the Far East and we need to work with them for global solutions. 
In the U.S., there is increasing awareness and retailers are open to listening. Probably there is less of a “wait and see” attitude than last year or the years before. I sense a comprehension and appreciation that we need to do something. We cannot allow business as usual on our environment. And I think it will take up sooner than anybody expected. One or two years ago, we would look at 10 to 15 years schedule for North America, but this is not the time schedule any more. I would say that in the next five years there would be a boom. Does Advansor have a plan to enter the CO2 refrigeration market in Central and Southern Europe?
Hansen: Not for now, but it will be our next step because the Central and Southern European market will use some of the technologies that are also needed for the North American climate, where we are focusing now. At the moment, we need to have better penetration in the German market. Germany is one of our first priorities in Europe. The penetration rate of transcritical CO2 systems in the German retail industry is 0,6%, which means out of 26,000 systems, only 160 are transcritical CO2. It is close to zero penetration.
R744: Then how about the French Market?
Hansen: Up until now Advansor does not have customers in France. But if retailers in France would be ready for it, then we would be ready for them as well. It depends on the big retailers like Carrefour and Auchan and also Casinos. The roll out needs service back up and before we create a service infrastructure, we need to see some persistent commitment from retailers. Trying only one or two systems is not a persistent commitment. If we are to support a certain retailer in its efforts to go natural, we need to have a clear sign that the retailer will continue along this route, and not just try it and go into something else, because we need to mobilise an extensive workforce in each new country to do the service, installation and look after the system on a daily basis. Has Advansor tried to get subsidies from government and other organisations to support the applications of CO2 transcritical systems?
Hansen: No. In my opinion this approach is non-lasting. What do you do when the government does not want to fund anymore? Then you lose your business. So why invest in doing trials with governmental support if there is no business case afterwards? I would put my focus somewhere else. How do you see the market share of CO2 transcritical systems in commercial sector of Europe at present and in the future?
Hansen: If you look at Northern Europe, CO2 transcritical systems will continue to penetrate. This includes Switzerland, where we expect to see CO2 only in supermarkets in the future. In ten years time CO2 would have a very high share. In Scandinavia, there will be only CO2.
In the UK, we can expect a 50% penetration without any regulations in the future. 
In Germany, I think there will be a big change within the next ten years, as they have people, technical skills, money, retailers and technology. It has to happen in my opinion. If we make a three points action plan to promote CO2 transcritical supermarkets in Europe, what are the three most important strategies in your point of view? 
Hansen: You need some regulations to push the industry. It could be a ban, phase-out or taxes. That is one key. Then you need to make a realistic rollout schedule, not taking the whole elephant in one bite, country-by-country and retailer-by-retailer, basing the rollout schedule on the geography and competences. Third, intense education is very important. If you see it every five years, people forget about it and regard it as a tedious and boring issue. You have to work everyday and you have to make an effort. Thank you for your insights.


By Huiting Jia

Nov 22, 2012, 15:45

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