Canadian refrigeration contractor Neelands Group has installed transcritical CO2 (R744) systems in 40–50 supermarkets in Canada over the last nine years, according to a recent presentation by Ady Vyas, VP of Energy and Digital Services at Neelands Group.
Around 90% of these systems were installed in new builds, with the remaining 10% being remodels, he said.
The presentation was made by Vyas during the End User and Contractor Panel at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) America Summit 2022 on natural refrigerants, which took place June 7–8 in Alexandria, Virginia. The conference was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com.
Neelands, a family-owned company founded in 1958, has been working with R744 as a refrigerant since 2008 and installed its first transcritical CO2 system in supermarket chain Longos’s 60,000ft2 (5,574.2m2) Oakville, Ontario, store in 2013.
Since then, the contractor has been steadily increasing the number of transcritical CO2 rack systems it has been installing in stores across North America, with a total of about 100 to date, including 90 between 2013 and 2021. (Some stores install multiple racks.) Installations peaked in 2017 with 20 transcritical CO2 systems fitted. Around 16 transcritical CO2 systems were installed by Neelands in 2021, according to Vyas’s presentation.
The majority of the company’s installations have been for international wholesaler Costco and Ontario-based supermarket chain Longos, with Vyas explaining that the first step in adoption is the hardest.
“Every new store [Longos and Costco] do is CO2,” said Vyas. “Their corporate visions have a role to play, but more importantly, they take the first plunge, and they see the social and operational benefits of it, and then they keep on going.”
“Every new store [Longos and Costco] do is CO2. Their corporate visions have a role to play, but more importantly, they take the first plunge, and they see the social and operational benefits of it, and then they keep on going.”Ady Vyas, Neelands Group
Vyas explained the differences between transcritical CO2 systems compared to HFC-based systems. While installation time for the two is similar, slightly more time is needed on the control side of transcritical CO2. Similarly, there is little difference in leakage rate; however, if there is a CO2 leak, there is a miniscule effect on the climate and fewer costs for the retailer.
The major difference between the two approaches is cost, according to Vyas, with the capital costs of transcritical CO2 being 10–15% higher than HFCs systems. The business case for R744 is made with the cost of the refrigerant itself, which is significantly lower than that of HFCs.
Based on Neelands’ experience, the operational performance of CO2, on average, is “a little better” than HFC-based systems in terms of rack energy consumption.
R744 for sustainable refrigeration
With CO2, Neelands’ clients are frequently driven by issues of sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions. They’re looking for future-proof systems and are ready to make a difference, according to Vyas.
Neelands shares this interest in sustainability, with an aim of being net-zero for its direct (Scope 1) emissions by 2030. Following that, the contractor plans to look at securing net-zero emissions across its entire footprint, including subcontractors, workmanship and leaks.
“We all need to work together to get to a net-zero path,” said Vyas.
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