A market study conducted by ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com, has estimated that in North America (U.S. and Canada), there were 1,895 sites (stores and industrial locations) with transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration systems, comprising 1,150 sites in the U.S. and 745 sites in Canada, as of December 2022.

The study also estimated that in Japan there were 6,960 sites with transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration systems as of December 2022.

The complete updated 159-page market study, “Natural Refrigerants: State of the Industry, Commercial and Industrial Refrigeration in Europe, North America and Japan, 2022 Edition,” can be accessed here for free. An earlier edition focused only on the European market was published last October.

Europe, the leading market for transcritical CO2, has an estimated 57,000 sites with transcritical CO2 systems, including 55,000 stores and 2,000 industrial sites, the study found. Of the stores, 50,000 use compressor rack systems while 5,000 employ condensing units.

The report also includes market data on installations of commercial hydrocarbon cabinets and industrial low-charge ammonia systems in Europe and North America. In addition the report looks at economic and policy trends impacting the growth of natural refrigerants in the three markets, as well as general trends and trends in CO2, hydrocarbons and ammonia refrigeration.

“By the end of the decade, natural refrigerants will represent the vast majority of commercial and industrial installations in many parts of the industrialized world,” said Marc Chasserot, Founder and Publisher of ATMOsphere. “It’s only a matter of time before this wave overtakes other applications such as heat pumps and AC, and transport refrigeration, among other residential, commercial and industrial applications.”

Stores vs. industrial sites

The study separately estimated transcritical CO2 installations in stores and industrial sites (largely cold-storage facilities). In the U.S., it found 1,030 stores and 120 industrial sites using transcritical CO2 systems while in Canada there were 575 stores and 170 industrial sites equipped with this refrigeration technology. The standard transcritical system in North America uses a compressor rack rather than a condensing unit.

In North America, commercial installations of transcritical CO2 systems are almost exclusively at supermarkets and grocery stores. Of the 71,348 supermarkets and grocery stores in North America, the market penetration for transcritical CO2 refrigeration is 2.2%. If convenience stores, a potential market for transcritical CO2, are added, then the market penetration of the 229,452 total outlets in North America is 0.7%.

Since 2020, transcritical CO2 installations in North American stores have grown from 945 to 1,605. In the U.S. CO2 store installations have increased from 605 to 1,030 while in Canada they have jumped from 340 to 575.

The study found that in Japan, 6,630 stores, including 6,300 convenience stores and 300 supermarkets, were using transcritical CO2 systems – mostly outdoor condensing units (OCUs) – as of last December, up from 5,800 stores reported in 2021.

The majority were installed by convenience store operator Lawson, which had 5,028 stores using CO2 OCUs as of December 2022 (more than one-third of their fleet of 14,656 stores). 7-Eleven Japan is another significant convenience store user of transcritical CO2, with 215 outlets using the technology as of March 2021.

As of December 2022, there were an estimated 330 industrial sites (mostly cold storage) using transcritical CO2 installations in Japan’s industrial refrigeration sector, up from 260 reported in 2021.

“By the end of the decade, natural refrigerants will represent the vast majority of commercial and industrial installations in many parts of the industrialized world.”

Marc Chasserot, Founder of ATMOsphere