U.S. refrigeration software and automation specialist Axiom Cloud has been selected as a sub-recipient of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) to “help grocery stores strategically use energy in a way that reduces their costs, while lowering strain on the electrical grid during peak usage times,” Axiom announced in a statement on September 16.

The money, which has been awarded through the DoE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER), will be put to use testing how an “artificial intelligence software platform can provide intelligent forecasting, modeling, and control of refrigeration loads at grocery stores,” Axiom stated. The test will be a collaboration between OER, Axiom and the National Grid.

“As Rhode Island works to meet its net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, the state must continue to lead the nation in developing cost-effective, clean energy solutions that reduce energy consumption, increase grid reliability, and shrink our carbon footprint,” said State Energy Commissioner Nicholas Ucci. “The Refrigeration Energy Management project will allow us to target the state’s grocery stores as a valuable source of flexible energy loads while providing crucial energy cost savings for these businesses.”

The refrigeration system is normally the top consumer of electricity in a grocery store, something that historically has been very difficult to change, according to Axiom Cloud. However, “with the more than 2,000 stores across Rhode Island and Massachusetts, a load shifting potential of 40 to 100MW may be possible if refrigeration loads were managed,” Axiom explained.

“Software is transforming retail grocers’ relationships with their refrigeration systems,” said Amrit Robbins, CEO of Axiom Cloud. “By leveraging hundreds of real-time data streams to build a digital model of each refrigeration system, our Virtual Battery app is able to predict when building and refrigeration loads will peak and manage refrigeration loads accordingly, without any negative impact on food safety or quality.”

Interested store owners will be enrolled in the National Grid’s Connected Solutions program, allowing them to earn revenue by reducing their energy consumption during periods of high grid demand. Participation is on a first come, first served basis for stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The grant from the DoE will make it possible to provide these services to selected grocers free of charge.

First CO2 stores

In July 2021, Axiom Cloud was deploying its software to the first few U.S. stores with CO2 (R744) refrigeration systems. “All three apps work the same way for hydrocarbon and CO2 stores, though some changes to the underlying thermophysical models and data analytics are necessary for CO2 stores,” Robbins said at the time.

Axiom Cloud’s apps are currently operational at about 35 stores across four major North American grocery chains, including Grocery Outlet and Whole Foods Market, according to Robbins, who added that contracts have been signed to deploy the apps at more than 40 additional stores.

All three of Axiom Cloud’s apps, which can be installed in under a day, are provided on a software-as-a-service basis. “Our customers typically recover their initial setup fees in three to nine months, and then receive a three-to-six times return on their subscription fees every month thereafter,” said Robbins.

“Our customers typically recover their initial setup fees in three to nine months, and then receive a three-to-six times return on their subscription fees every month thereafter”

Amrit Robbins, Axiom Cloud

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