The rate of natural refrigerant use among Japanese refrigerated warehouse operators, which has doubled since 2011, is expected to double again in the next five years, according to Japan’s Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (JARW).

This was a key takeaway from the association’s most recent annual refrigerant use survey of its members.

Shigekatsu Koganemaru, Vice Chairman of the Association’s Environment and Safety Committee, presented results from the survey during the ATMOsphere Japan 2021 conference, held online on February 15 and organized by shecco, publisher of this website.

According to the survey data from 2019, the use of R22, which accounted for 80.9% of refrigerants used in 2011, dropped to 53.1% in 2019. Meanwhile, the rate of natural refrigerant use increased from 15.0% to 36.7% during the same period.

Among the natural refrigerant systems used in 2019, ammonia/CO2 systems had the largest share at 67.0%. Ammonia direct expansion (DX) systems accounted for 29.4%, while CO2 systems accounted for 3.35% (doubling from 1.3% in 2018).

The title of the slide reads “Change in refrigerants used by JARW member firms.” The blue line shows the trend for natural refrigerants.

Much of the increase is attributed to the availability of government subsidies provided for the installation of natural refrigerant systems in cold storage applications in Japan, said Koganemaru.

“We are very grateful for the Ministry of Environment’s subsidy program, as many of our members operate warehouses on a fragile financial base,” said Koganemaru.

“If the subsidy program is continued, we expect the usage rate of natural refrigerants to double in the next five years.”

Koganemaru also said that he predicts the use of R22 will fall below 50% in next year’s annual survey.

Koganemaru is also President of Japanese cold storage operator company Yoshio Ice Manufacturing & Refrigeration. At ATMOsphere Japan, Koganemaru presented results showing significant energy-use reduction with its second installation of a transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration system in February 2020; the company retrofitted an existing R22 system with a CO2 transcritical system at one of its cold storage facilities in Fukuoka, Japan.

See Koganemaru’s full presentation here (Japanese).

“If the subsidy program is continued, we expect the usage rate of natural refrigerants to double in the next five years.”

Shigekatsu Koganemaru, Japan Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (JARW)