SCM REF Australia, Beijer Ref Australia’s manufacturing operation, has installed more than 220 transcritical CO2 units in Oceania over the past four years, noting a growing interest in all applications, particularly at convenience stores.
This is according to Inderpal Saund, Business Development Manager APAC & Sales Manager at SCM REF Australia, during the ARBS 2022 trade show, which took place from August 16 to 18 in Melbourne.
The past four years in Australia have been exciting for SCM REF, according to Saund. “We have gone from bringing a few units in here or there to now actually being a major player in the marketplace,” he said. “We have seen not only a rapid increase in the interest in CO2, but also good uptake of the technology,” said Saund. “We have always had interest, but now we’re actually seeing the orders come through.
To manufacture its own equipment locally, SCM REF relocated to a new 22,000m2 (236,806ft2) factory in Bankstown, Sydney. The company still imports units from its sister company SCM Frigo in Europe as well, allowing a joint supply of equipment into the Oceanian marketplace.
At the Bankstown facility, SCM REF also built a Beijer Ref Academy to share CO2 knowledge and support training locally, similar to Beijer Ref’s other academies around the globe. “We have gone beyond just providing a solution; we are also showing you how to run that solution, how to service it, how to repair it and how to do this all safely,” said Saund.
Commercial sector still biggest market
SCM REF Australia now imports the full SCM Frigo range from Europe, allowing it to service all applications – from condensing units for small convenience stores to large 2MW (569TR) industrial applications. According to Saund, there has been particular interest in using CO2 for convenience liquor stores.
Saund estimates SCM REF’s combined CO2 unit count for Australia and New Zealand to be somewhere over 220. The Beijer Ref Group units account for around 80–100 in Australia and 10–20 in New Zealand. The largest percentage of these installations is still accounted for by commercial applications. Industrial ones are slow to take off as they face great competition from ammonia/NH3 (R717); however, there is potential for combined ammonia-CO2 systems where heat reclaim can offer a great benefit.
Saund estimates the units sold numbers to climb to around 1,000 by 2025, depending largely on the retailers. “They are the ones driving the change right now,” he said.
According to Saund, SCM REF now works with three of the four major retailers in Australia. There has been a shift from merely experimenting with CO2 technology to now insisting on it. “In the early days, the retailers would say, ‘Let’s try this’; now they say, ‘We want this,’” explained Saund. “There has been a great learning curve and the retailers are prepared to do more now.” This has been helped along by the advancements within the technology itself.
SCM REF has become more confident in advocating the use of CO2 locally thanks to the growing installation base. “Before we were very dependent on what the Europeans were telling us, but now we have local experiences to draw from,” said Saund.
Policy lags behind
According to Saund, local policy and regulations are a massive hurdle for the widespread uptake of CO2 in Oceania. “The policy has to change; it really does,” said Saund. “At the same time, industry needs to support that shift as well.” Locally, there are still strong pockets of people using traditional, high-GWP HFC refrigerants like R404A.
“We have seen not only a rapid increase in the interest in CO2, but also good uptake of the technology.”Inderpal Saund, SCM REF Australia
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