German wholesaler Metro AG has adopted a set of “very ambitious” climate targets, and is well underwayon track to achieveving them, having managed to reduce its CO2e emissions by 34% at the end of 2020, compared to 2011 numbers.

An aggressive natural refrigerants program, primarily based on CO2, is a significant contributor to the reduction.

This positive news was shared by Olaf Schulze, the Director of Energy Management at Metro AG, during an end-user panel at the recent ATMO Virtual Trade Show 2021 for natural refrigerant technologies, organized by shecco, the publisher of this website.

Metro AG’s goal is to reduce its CO2e emissions by 50% before 2030, compared to the 2011 numbers. However, Schulze does not expect the remaining 16% to be quite as easy to come by. “It’s a bit like doing 50 push-ups,” he said. “The first 35 are quite good, but the last 15 are the challenge.”

Metro’s 2030 goal relies on a five-pronged strategy.

  1. Investing in energy efficiency measures and working on behavior change by employees.
  2. F-Gas Exit Program (FEP), which dictates that all new and refurbished stores will only use only natural refrigerants.
  3. The Smaragd project, which installs photovoltaic panels on the roofs of stores to provide renewable energy (smaragd is German for emerald).
  4. The Heat Exit Program (HEP)
  5. The Greenstore + Zeus initiatives (Zero emission store), meaning that all new and refurbished stores should have zero emissions.

When talking about new refrigeration systems, the standard solution for Metro is now transcritical CO2 (R744) with ejectors and heat recovery. For smaller repairs or aisle refurbishments, Metro uses plug-in propene (R1270) solutions. 

The FEP is progressing well, Schulze said. Metro now has 121 stores with transcritical CO2 refrigeration, of which 30 are equipped with ejector technology. The company expects to add at least 20 more in 2021. The stores are located all over Europe, including Russia. Metro also has 74 stores and facilities with CO2 subcritical systems (in cascade with R134), ammonia and propene.

When deciding which stores to convert next, Metro looks at the age of the system, the average refill volumes over the last two years, price of conventional refrigerants (HFCs) in the local market, and the return of investment period. The company also prioritizes countries where short-term legal obligations will make change necessary.

On the energy saving side, Metro is also moving forward, investing more than €1 million (US$1.19 million). Euros in the current fiscal year on installing doors on open cabinets.

The effect of COVID-19

Metro is a wholesaler, with the majority of its customers being hotels, caterers and the like. This means that the company has not been as unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic as most other food retailers. The conversions to natural refrigerants, therefore, slowed down somewhat in 2020, but Metro is getting ready to “attack again” Schulze declared.

Schulze remindeded his audience that “the problem is not the refrigerant, the problem is the refrigerant when we have leakages,” adding that the company’s key performance indicator, measured on a monthly level, is leakage rates. The actual rate varies from country to country, with Austrian stores having a very low 1.2% leakage rate, whereas stores in the Ukraine have a 26% leakage rate over the last 12 months.

Metro AG sells food and non-food items in more than 24 countries under the Metro and Makro brands. The company is mainly present in Europe, but also India, Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

“It’s a bit like doing 50 push-ups, the first 35 are quite good, but the last 15 are the challenge,”

Olaf Schulze, Metro

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