R744.com: Tewis has become one of the most important companies in the refrigeration industry, designing and manufacturing more than 60 R134a/CO2 cascade systems in Spain. What does Tewis offer its customers?
Alfonso Olcina: Tewis is part of the Molgroup, which is comprised of four companies: Eliwell Ibérica S.A, Zanotti Smart Solutions SL, Tewis Smart Solutions International and Eliwell Systems SRL. Each company works together at different stages in the design, manufacture and commissioning of refrigerant systems, mainly for commercial applications (around 80% of the business). Tewis designs the refrigeration systems and provides consulting services to customers offering the best solutions in terms of efficiency depending on a client’s needs. Zanotti Smart manufactures those systems, and Eliwell provides system control.
As a result of this we are able to provide customers with standardised as well as tailor-made refrigeration solutions.
R744.com: Training is another one of the core pillars of Tewi’s business, can you tell us a little more about your facilities and courses?
Olcina: We provide refrigeration systems but we are not the system installers. For this reason, training is a key issue in our business process. Our facilities include a state-of-the-art laboratory, which features a supermarket facility, as well as one subcritical and one transcritical CO2 system. These installations allow technicians to learn about, and have real experiences working on refrigeration installations
We have already collaborated with big supermarket chains such as Carrefour, Auchan, DIA%, ecc. For instance, we provided training to Frigotécnica, the refrigeration installation company that was engaged by Carrefour to install its first CO2 Subcritical system in Romania or Symply with the first CO2 Subcritical installed two years ago in the location of Tournefeille.
R744.com: Given your expertise in the refrigeration market, do you think that the market is changing in Spain with regards to natural refrigerants, and in particular CO2?
Olcina: I would say that a profound change is ocurring. Until just a few years ago, all installations used to employ R404 as the refrigerant. Now, and partially due to the tax imposed by the Spanish Government, things are changing in favour of natural refrigerants, or at least refrigerants with a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP). As manufacturers, we launched our EcoSmart product line in 2009 and now we are offering CO2 and ammonia refrigerant solutions.
R744.com: What are the biggest obstacles to the uptake of natural refrigerants in Spain?
Olcina: I would say the main obstacles are regulatory, such as for example the ATEX directive. In general I think legislation needs to be well balanced to support natural refrigerants but also to support businesses in adapting to new regulations, whilst also meeting market demands.
The lack of refrigerant alternatives that can operate efficiently at high ambient temperatures is also a problem.
R744.com: What do you think it is the best option for commercial refrigeration applications in Spain?
Olcina: I believe that the best solution for a supermarket between 800 and 2000m2 in terms of energy efficiency is a cascade system operating with CO2 refrigerant for the low temperature and a very low GWP refrigerant for the medium temperature. We have more than 60 systems across Spain and Portugal cooled by systems like these, in addition to some in France and Rumania. The results confirm the high performance of such solutions in terms of efficiency.
Nevertheless we are always looking for new alternatives to increase efficiency and achieve energy savings, as well as to reduce or eliminate environmental impacts. We have recently developed a new system that uses the refrigerant R450A (GWP ~600) for medium temperature and CO2 as the refrigerant in the low temperature stage for a big supermarket chain in Sevilla. A second system with the same features will be installed at an important distribution platform located in Madrid.
R744.com: Are you also considering CO2 transcritical system installations in Spain?
Olcina: Although I think cascade systems are the most efficient in warm climates such as Spain, we are also considering CO2 transcritical systems. However, I believe all systems need to be adjusted to the features of each country. For instance, I would not doubt the efficiency of a CO2 transcritical system in England but in countries such as Spain this solution may not be the best fit. We need to adapt it.
R744.com: How do you see the market for CO2 refrigeration in Spain evolving in the next 5 years? What other projects outside Spain is Tewis involved in?
Olcina: The use of CO2 as a refrigerant will continue to grow in Spain, as it remains the most efficient solution for low temperature applications.
Europe is our major market but we are already working on several projects in Mexico, Chile and Brazil and we hope to install CO2 refrigeration systems in those countries very soon.