Carrefour designed the private forum, held on 21-22 October, to familiarise its technical directors, store designers and business development managers – who descended on Les Ulis, France from Carrefour locations around the globe – with the best available natural refrigerant technology.
The entire spectrum of Carrefour’s refrigeration needs was represented at the forum, from the smallest convenience store to the largest hypermarket, and from urban stores to remote locations. Among the manufacturers selected to present their technology were Advansor, AHT, Alfa Laval, Carrier, Epta (Bonnet Névé), Hauser, Johnson Controls, Sanden, SCM-Frigo and Tripleaqua.
Products ranged from integrated solutions covering all refrigeration, heating and cooling needs for discount markets to plug-in systems and condensing units for convenience stores, as well as third-generation CO2 transcritical booster systems for larger stores. The forum also featured propane chillers with plug-and-play functionality, which rely on off-the-shelf components.
And the winner is… naturals?
With the EU F-Gas Regulation driving change among Europe’s food retailers, natural refrigerant technology providers have high expectations that demand for their systems will increase. Sanden’s European Sales & Marketing Manager Sylvain Gillaux predicts that natural technology will ultimately take the lion’s share of the market, but sees HFOs as an interim solution, “disturbing the market for a short time period” leading up to 2020.
Comparing natural solutions, a representative of control and valve supplier Carel believes that only charge limits and other regulations will determine their use: “Definitely it will be small plug-in units with propane; CO2 for the rest.” Italian system manufacturer Epta does not believe food retailers need to choose CO2 above hydrocarbons, or vice versa, instead advising them to take advantage of “the best of each to respond to different market needs.”
CVS trend undeniable
Germany-based system manufacturer Carrier has concentrated its efforts on offering customers a better urban shopping experience with thinner multideck cabinets and vertical freezers with deeper shelves. Its ultra-narrow medium-temperature (Optimer) and low-temperature (Velando CS) cabinets are especially suited for convenience stores, and fitted with remotes for CO2 and propane plug-ins. The systems save up to 35% in total energy consumption.
Carrier’s competitors confirmed that the move to CVS (convenience stores) is one of the most dominant trends in the European commercial sector, with the CVS segment showing the highest growth rates overall. Hauser’s International Sales Director Markus Lichtenwallner believes standardised plug-in CO2 systems with simple connections to water-loop systems will continue their rapid emergence onto the CVS market.
Another major trend is the move towards integrated system solutions covering a store’s entire refrigeration, cooling and heating needs. As the energy efficiency of Europe’s building stock improves, the food retail sector is charged with finding better refrigeration solutions, particularly as HVAC&R is expected to account for a large share of a building’s total energy demands in future. All suppliers confirmed that they are in some form or another already working on making such integrated solutions available to the market.
Austrian manufacturer Hauser is confident that its concept of connecting the refrigeration system to a heat pump in a fully integrated CO2 solution for an entire store will prove to be what the market is seeking. Market leader Carrier will concentrate its efforts on recouping excess heat from its refrigeration systems. And Dorin says it is ready to support the industry, identifying the shift towards integrated systems as the “main and the most interesting trend” to watch.