At ATMOsphere Europe 2015, Fleury spoke at length of the retailer’s commitment to sustainability. A cornerstone of its lofty ambition is to reduce its CO2 emissions in Belgium, France, Italy and Spain by 40% by 2020 compared to 2009 levels. Also on the agenda was the viability of CO2 transcritical solutions. With stores already in Romania, Carrefour’s focus is now squarely on it’s two pilot stores in Valencia, Spain.
The first, a pilot hypermarket in Alzira, was launched in 2013 and its use of parallel compression technology has led to 13% energy savings so far. Jean-Michel Fleury believes the second, launched in 2014 in Castellón, which combines parallel compression with an ejector system, is set for even bigger savings.
Given the encouraging preliminary findings from the first pilot store, Carrefour has continued to explore further options for this technology in the south of France, Italy and Brazil.
R744.com: What do you think is the market share of CO2 based on the total number of Carrefour stores? What are your plans for the next 5-10 years with regards to the future number of CO2 transcritical stores?
Fleury: Well, there is no market share at this time because the proportion is still small, we have more than 8000 stores in Europe, but one thing is for sure though that all stores in Europe will be converted with natural refrigerants, as well CO2 or other HFC-free technologies that may arise in the longer term. We think that the trend is that CO2 transcritical will be the dominant technology in commercial refrigeration. It’s true at Carrefour that most of the current projects are CO2 transcritical, including at least 300 stores split between transcritical and hybrid systems by the end this year.
R744.com: The CO2 system at the Alzira-Valencia hypermarket has achieved 13% energy savings compared to the former installation. How does this result compare to your expectations and to the original projections?
Fleury: For warm regions the results matched with our study expectations. We are quite satisfied with this project in Spain, we expected like for like around 13% and we’ve achieved that. In fact, for the store manager the savings are much higher, the utility bill for refrigeration goes down by 47%.
R744.com: To improve the efficiency of CO2 transcritical in warmer ambients, what convinced you to opt for parallel compression over other technologies such as adiabatic cooling or mechanical sub cooling?
Fleury: We have different devices to increase the Coefficient of Performance of CO2 transcritical. The first one, parallel compression, we have experimented with in the Alzira store but also another store, Castellón-Valencia, is testing CO2 transcritical with a new device called an ejector system. We expect this installation will bring more savings than the Alzira-Valencia store using parallel compression. It’s really important for Carrefour to set up these two experimental stores in this region in order to compare their results.
R744.com: What is the situation outside Europe? For example, a few years ago Carrefour completed several CO2 installations in Turkey, are you planning similar CO2 installations in other countries such as Brazil?
Fleury: Yes, we are focusing some efforts outside Europe, in Brazil. We think that this country is a major potential market to receive CO2. We have three stores running with CO2 cascade and we are looking to implement the first CO2 transcritical store in Brazil.
R744.com: Terrific news! When will the store open?
Fleury: We cannot tell you, now we’re preparing the project and cannot be sure it will start in 2015, but most probably in 2016.
R744.com: What do you expect from manufacturers, associations or government with regards to natural refrigerant training?
Fleury: In general, the refrigeration industry and education policies must take responsibility in regards to training for CO2. As the refrigeration field is not our core business, we are waiting on government policy and the refrigeration industry to set up the means to train a new generation of technicians. This is vital in order to give the training schools the means to equip future engineers with the skills to invent new technologies and properly maintain CO2 refrigeration systems. It is not easy, of course we have initiated some actions, but it is not our remit.
R744.com: In your ATMOsphere Europe 2015 presentation you mention that Carrefour’s ultimate goal is to become HFC-free. By when do you think this will be become a reality, and what are the main challenges to face in the next 5 years?
Fleury: Usually we don’t give any deadline or any detailed plan to reach targets but the only thing we can tell you is that we try and accelerate the deployment of CO2 technologies. According to the numbers of projects we have received from our business units, currently, we have more CO2 transcritical projects than CO2 hybrid projects. In the coming years we will probably install less and less CO2 hybrid systems until this technology is completely given up. In Belgium, for example, we can expect in the near future that all the stores will be switched to CO2 transcritical. Belgium is an important business unit for Carrefour, it shows the efficient path to take for the other countries.
R744.com: Following on from the earlier question, is there any news from Turkey and your stores there?
Fleury: In Turkey, since Carrefour sold holdings to its partner we no longer manage the development of new technologies. It’s true, Turkey was one of the first countries to experiment with CO2 technologies, but we do not know now where they are with natural refrigeration development.
R744.com: Thank you for your time!