Germany-based international food wholesaler METRO is continuing its rollout of natural refrigerant-based refrigeration systems and equipment with its first transcritical CO2 (R744) installation in Ukraine.

This latest installation is one of METRO’s 161 transcritical CO2 stores globally.

According to Olaf Schulze, Vice President Energy Management  at METRO Properties (the real estate division of METRO), the system, which has been commissioned at the chain’s existing Teremky store in Kyiv, is thought to be the first transcritical CO2 installation in Ukraine’s wholesale retail sector.

Schulze also said that the company plans to install its first transcritical CO2 system in Serbia later this year.

CO2 and R290 refrigeration

METRO’s plan to introduce transcritical CO2 into Ukraine was shared by Schulze at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) Europe Summit 2022, which took place November 15–16 in Brussels and was organized by ATMOsphere, publisher of

The installation in Kyiv was delayed by one year due to the war in Ukraine, he explained.

The centralized transcritical CO2 refrigeration system, from U.S.-based manufacturer Carrier, provides 60kW (17TR) for the store’s low-temperature applications and 500kW (142TR) for its medium-temperature needs. It serves remote cabinets and cold rooms.

The retrofit also included propane (R290)-based deep cooling cabinets, which were supplied by Austrian cabinet manufacturer AHT.

The system and cabinets were installed by local contractor BM Service.

Global shift to transcritical CO2

In addition to bringing the technology to Ukraine and Serbia, METRO will be installing new transcritical equipment in its stores in Moldova, said Schulze, following its first transcritical CO2 installation in 2022 in its Chisinau, Moldova, wholesale store.

Once the installation in Serbia is operational, transcritical CO2 will have been introduced to all of METRO’s markets, with the exception of Turkey and Pakistan, he added.

In Turkey specifically, he said that the adoption of the technology has been affected by a lack of installers and limited local maintenance and repair capacity.

Accelerated transition

METRO’s first transcritical CO2 installation was in 2008 in Hamburg, Germany, and in 2013, the company introduced its F-gas Exit Program (FEP), which aims to phase out the use of HFCs and HCFCs in all of its stores by 2040.

Since then, METRO has piloted the technology in many countries. It has also installed subcritical equipment in countries where the refrigeration sector is not able to support transcritical CO2.

While METRO is pushing for the adoption of natural refrigerants, Schulze has said that the proposed revisions to the EU F-gas Regulation have created some concern within the business.

“The new F-gas Regulation will increase the burden and [hurdle] to operate with non-natural refrigerants, [which has our] strong support,” he said. “But what we [cannot] support is the new regulations that only allow refrigerants with a GWP of less than 150 after 2030.”

“The new F-gas Regulation will increase the burden and [hurdle] to operate with non-natural refrigerants, [which has our] strong support.”

Olaf Schulze, METRO Properties

According to Schulze, METRO has 48 systems, with a capital expenditure of more than €90 million (US$98.4 million) that it plans to replace between 2030 and 2035, once they reach the end of their technical lifecycle. However, the new regulation, if adopted, would require the equipment to be exchanged by 2030, leading to stranded assets and the scrapping of operational equipment before end-of-life, he added.

“What I am asking is that the phase out of refrigerants with a GWP of more than 150 but below 2,500 shall be not in 2030 but in a later date, for example, 2035,” Schulze said. “The delay of five years would help us bring the existing subcritical equipment to the end of the life cycle and to exchange it in a regular way. I am convinced METRO is not alone with the issue.”