In a sign of the increasing popularity of small format CO2-based refrigeration systems in Europe, Panasonic has sold about 200 units to date of its 2HP CO2 outdoor condensing unit in Europe since its launch in the summer of last year.

The firm expects these sales to double in Europe this coming year. In addition, Panasonic will be officially launching its 10HP CO2 outdoor condensing unit in Europe this summer. The 10HP unit has a cooling capacity of 15 kW at an evaporating temperature of -5°C.

This website spoke with Gaku Shimada, overseas sales manager in Panasonic’s refrigeration system sales department, about the current market for the firm’s CO2 systems in Europe as well as in Japan, Australia and China. What has been the reception in Europe for Panasonic’s CO2 outdoor condensing units so far?

Shimada: For the 2HP CO2 outdoor condensing unit, we have been receiving so many inquiries – mainly for freezers or refrigerators that are required to be added on to existing stores.

This summer we will be officially launching the 10HP unit and we have been receiving many inquiries for it already as well. However, for the initial year, we need to be careful with the installations since the 10HP unit is connected to multiple evaporators, which is different from the 2HP units. Why is now the right time for Panasonic to begin entering the European market for commercial CO2 refrigeration systems?

Shimada: HFC prices, especially R404A, became seven times higher in 2017. Because of it, users are aware that they cannot use HFCs in the near future. No doubt, this means that we have a bigger chance to introduce CO2 systems. What is currently the biggest barrier you are facing in Europe for selling CO2 systems?

Shimada: The initial cost of a CO2 installation is still higher than HFC-based systems. End users who prioritise the initial investment rather than running costs will not choose CO2.

“So far, uptake has been faster than Japan.”

Gaku Shimada, Panasonic How do you see the future uptake of Panasonic’s CO2 solutions in Europe? Will it be as quick as Japan?

Shimada: So far, uptake has been faster than Japan. This is probably because installers are used to handling CO2 already and transcritical CO 2 systems are generally available in Europe. Can you please provide an update on Panasonic’s CO2 outdoor condensing unit sales in Japan? What are your plans for launching CO 2 systems in other regions such as Australia and China?

Shimada: To date, we have sold more than 8,000 units in Japan and are expecting to grow. We’d like to launch Panasonic’s CO2 units in Australia this year and will begin manufacturing them in China in the future.

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