To reduce refrigerant emissions, Carrefour is phasing out HFCs and replacing them with CO2 for commercial refrigeration. In 2017, the retail giant plans to progress on using natural refrigerant solutions in its smaller Express stores in particular. Accelerate Europe spoke to Paolo Martini, refrigeration & HVAC manager for international support at the Carrefour Group, to find out more.

Overall the Carrefour Group is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2025 and by 70% by 2050 (compared to 2010 levels). There are around 12,300 stores under the Group banner in 35 countries and five continents.

CO2 condensing units for smaller Carrefour stores

“We’re seeing an interesting evolution in small CO2 systems,” said Martini. Companies like Green & Cool, Advansor, Sanden and Panasonic are all beginning to offer CO2 condensing units in Europe. “We’re interested in testing these systems. For smaller stores, we’re going pilot and evaluate hydrocarbons and CO2 in parallel,” Martini says.

Last September, Carrefour Belgium opened an Express store fitted with a propylene water-loop refrigeration system. Located in the Brussels suburb of Laeken, the store was the Group’s first to use this solution. Carrefour is also currently considering wider use of hydrocarbon plug-in cabinets.

Factors ultimately influencing the decision to go for CO2 or hydrocarbons will include store size, equipment cost, and legislation in each country, Martini explains.

“Our strategy is to achieve the goal of HFC-free installations, without retrofitting to HFC-HFO mixtures.

Paolo Martini, Carrefour Group

Bringing natrefs to warmer climates

Carrefour is also hoping to install CO2 racks in supermarkets in new countries this year, building on the results it is receiving from transcritical systems installed in two Brazilian stores in April 2016. The success of its installations in warmer climate like Brazil and Spain proves that CO2 refrigeration technology can now operate efficiently everywhere.

In the wake of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, Martini is even more convinced that Carrefour’s decision to divest from HFCs was the right one. “Our strategy is to achieve the goal of HFC-free installations, without retrofitting to HFC-HFO mixtures,” Martini said.

Carrefour wants to avoid the “double investment” of investing in HFC-HFO or HFO systems only to have to switch to natural refrigerants at a later date. “We don’t want to use HFOs,” he declared.

The full version of this interview with Carrefour is in the spring edition of Accelerate Europe. It is part of a wider story on natural refrigerants in Europe’s biggest food retailers. Click here to read it.

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