Germany-based international food wholesaler METRO is continuing its rollout of transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration systems with installations planned for two of its Ukrainian stores in 2024, according to Oleksandr Sikora, Head of Technical Operations at METRO Ukraine.

These two retrofit projects follow the retail chain’s first transcritical CO2 installation in Ukraine earlier this year at a store in Kyiv, which was delayed by one year due to the Russian invasion.

Sikora shared plans for the upcoming installations in Kyiv and Lviv during the End User Panel session at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) Europe Summit 2023 on natural refrigerants. The conference took place September 19–20 in Brussels and was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of

Sustainability through adversity

During his presentation, Sikora also shared details of METRO Ukraine’s first transcritical CO2 installation, which he said was particularly challenging due to the ongoing war. He attributed success to his various colleagues and partners, including system manufacturer Carrier and local contractor BM Service.

According to Sikora, the war has made normal supply channels unusable, with road transport being the only viable option. Due to long delays at the border, delivery of equipment was significantly disrupted.

Installation of the new transcritical CO2 system was dangerous and severely disrupted due to missile attacks, with the team frequently having to stop work and take refuge in bomb shelters. A curfew also made it impossible to work at night.

Despite the challenges, the system is now up and running, and METRO Ukraine is seeing energy savings of 25% and reduced maintenance costs of 60%.

“It was a very long and difficult time, but our team and partners have done a great job,” he said. “I think it will be a good example for other companies in Ukraine.”

He added that the team in Ukraine is committed to METRO’s decarbonization strategy.

“We are looking to the future with confidence,” he said. “We will liberate our country, and we will reach our goals in CO2 reduction!”

“We are looking to the future with confidence. We will liberate our country and we will reach our goals in CO2 reduction!”

Oleksandr Sikora, METRO Ukraine

Climate neutral by 2040

Sikora was joined at ATMO Europe 2023 by his colleague Olaf Schulze, Director of Energy Management and Real Estate Sustainability at METRO Properties (the real estate division of METRO), who delivered the conference’s End User Keynote.

Schulze’s presentation focused on METRO Group’s efforts to achieve climate neutrality across its operations and facilities (Scope 1 and 2) by 2040.

“Every day, customers are visiting us and demanding that we are on our way to be green and to be climate neutral,” he explained. “METRO is on track to reach carbon neutrality across all its operations, with a clear strategy and clear willingness.”

Olaf Schulze, METRO Properties, at ATMO Europe 2023.
Olaf Schulze, METRO Properties, at ATMO Europe 2023.

To date, METRO has reduced is greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 37%, from 382kg/m2 of sales floor in 2011, to 242kg/m2 in 2021–22.

“Every day, customers are visiting us and demanding that we are on our way to be green and to be climate neutral.”

Olaf Schulze, METRO Properties

The international wholesaler is implementing a number of programs and initiative to help cut its emissions, including an Energy Awareness Program, an Energy Saving Program and the installation of photovoltaics (PVs) at its properties.

METRO’s F-gas Exit Program aims to reduce all emissions from refrigerant leakages by 2030 and commits to using natural refrigerant-based equipment for all new HVAC&R systems. The company first started working with transcritical CO2 technology in 2008 and has since rolled out R744-based systems across some 161 of its stores globally. According to Schulze, METRO is currently working on upgrading its second store in Moldova, and by next year, all of its Moldovan stores will be f-gas free. He noted that a lack of maintenance personnel for natural refrigerants is limiting the adoption of transcritical CO2 technology in certain markets like Turkey and Dubai.

Over the next year or two, the company will also start refurbishing the first transcritical systems it installed around 15 years ago in Germany.

The company is phasing out the use of fossil fuel-based heating systems with the adoption of heat pumps through its Heat Exit Program.

“Real emissions reductions will come from clever investments,” said Schulze.

Decarbonizing logistics

Another area of interest for METRO is decarbonizing its fleet of vehicles – both corporate cars and delivery trucks. While the majority of the wholesaler’s business is currently in stores, it is moving more and more to delivery with the goal of tripling its delivery business by 2030, compared to 2021.

During his presentation Schulze announced that the company hopes to have its first five electric trucks delivered in the “coming weeks.”

“The cooling equipment [in our trucks] must be by definition f-gas free, but we need industry to offer the right products at a competitive price,” he explained. “We need reliable cooling technologies that can ensure our quality produce is moved from the depot to the customer.”