Currently the Transgourmet Group – a European wholesale and cash & carry giant – has 16 stores that use CO2 transcritical systems. It plans to install seven new CO2 systems in 2017, in supermarkets and distribution centres in Poland, Romania, Russia and Germany.

CO2 to deliver energy savings of 20% over ammonia

These projects include a huge distribution centre in Hamburg, and local distribution centres in Polish capital Warsaw and the city of Bistrița, Romania. “CO2 is an excellent alternative to ammonia, particularly in small and medium-sized distribution centres, Hans-Dieter Brüss told Accelerate Europe.

Brüss – a vice-president in the group’s Central and Eastern European arm, which operates cash & carry and wholesale stores in Germany, Poland, Romania and Russia – is confident that the decision to opt for CO2 over ammonia for warehouses will deliver energy savings to the tune of at least 20%.

“Transgourmet has the ambition and target to apply CO2 technology whenever possible – for refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps. When we say CO2, we mean ‘full CO2’. No hybrid systems that still use HFCs,” he said.

Brüss is putting HVAC&R – and natural refrigerants in particular – at the centre of Transgourmet CEE’s strategy for delivering its goal of becoming CO2-neutral by 2023. “The target is 100% CO2,” he says, estimating that by 2020, the market share for CO2 in Transgourmet CEE will be above 50%.

The group is adopting CO2 for all refrigeration, air conditioning and heating applications, not just in new and updated stores but also in distribution centres. “In every new store and every remodelled store, we’re changing from traditional cooling to CO2,” Brüss explained.

“Whatever the project or application, we first check the feasibility with CO2. We try to apply CO2 in every store and country, but we must always consider local circumstances like availability of spare parts, infrastructure, and existing know-how about CO2,” he said.

There is not yet a precise timetable in place for delivering the transition. Brüss said that the Transgourmet Group’s goal is to become HFC-free “in the near future”. “We’re trying to change four, five or six installations to CO2 every year,” he said. At this pace, will the Group achieve its goal of becoming CO2-neutral by 2023? He answered with an emphatic “yes!”

“CO2 is an excellent alternative to ammonia, particularly in small and medium-sized distribution centres.

Hans-Dieter Brüss, vice-president, Transgourmet CEE

CO2 ‘the best solution for Transgourmet’

With so many CO2 projects under construction and in the pipeline, did Brüss consider adopting other natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons or ammonia? “Yes, we looked into other natural refrigerants, but found that CO2 was the best solution for Transgourmet,” he said.

The Group adopted its sustainability targets at board level long before the adoption of the Kigali Agreement on phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. Brüss is aware of which way the wind is blowing but he is ahead of the curve. Kigali did not give any fresh impetus to Transgourmet’s journey.The full version of this interview with Transgourmet is in the spring edition of Accelerate Europe. It is part of a wider story on natural refrigerants in Europe’s biggest food retailers. Click here to read it.

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