In an interview with Accelerate Australia & NZ, Tim Flinn, vice-president and managing director of Emerson in Australia and New Zealand, explains why the US-headquartered multinational is excited about the growth potential for natural refrigerants in the region.

Accelerate Australia & NZ magazine is published by shecco, publisher of this website. Below are selected highlights from an interview published in the latest edition.

Accelerate Australia & NZ: What are the opportunities with natural refrigerants in the Australia and New Zealand markets?

Flinn: They’re significant. The big food retailers have made their intentions clear: they are all keen to take advantage of the efficiency benefits of natural refrigerants, as well as the reputational advantages of being seen to be moving towards carbon-neutral.

As with most new technologies impacting the retail sector, the largest players are leading adoption, but we are also already seeing them starting to be adopted by the independent retail sector too. As time progresses, the technology and its implementation will become more affordable.

Accelerate Australia & NZ: What have you heard from your customers in Australia and New Zealand regarding energy efficiency?

Flinn: Anecdotal feedback from the market and our customers has so far been encouraging, based on installations and performance to date.

We’re already seeing our customers roll out their installations more aggressively, with intentions to move to the more tropical areas of the country, as well as outside the key metros into more remote locations.

It’s worth noting that energy-efficient performance in hotter and more humid climates is also important for future adoption of this technology beyond Australia and New Zealand.

If this technology works well in a climate like Queensland, then it bodes well for adoption in the Southeast Asian market.

Accelerate Australia & NZ: Which sectors hold the most potential for natural refrigerants?

Flinn: We see the most immediate potential in food retail, with the larger industry players leading the way.

These companies generally have the capability to take a long-term view and can also map new technologies like transcritical CO2 into their new store development plans. As the technology matures, smaller and independent stores will follow.

We also expect demand from the foodservice sector as brands both big and small recognise the need to be seen to be green.

Accelerate Australia & NZ: What are the biggest challenges in accelerating the transition to natural refrigerant-based technologies?

Flinn: Upfront investment remains a factor, with natural refrigerant-based systems costing approximately 10-15% more than traditional technologies.

We are confident, however, that this will be less of an issue, for three reasons. First, as volumes increase, core equipment costs begin to fall.

Second, as more knowledge and experience is gained, installation costs also decrease. Finally, as more data becomes available, the ROI picture becomes even more clear and compelling.

The biggest potential limit to the speed of adoption in markets like Australia and New Zealand is the shortage of qualified technicians. A generation of older electro-mechanical engineers is beginning to leave the workforce, and as an industry, we absolutely need to find and train a new generation of technicians to install and maintain a new generation of cooling technologies.

Click here to read the full interview

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