This is first time we have had such a wide geographical representation on such a retail panel,” said March Chasserot in his panel introduction, an indication that the use of natural refrigerants is becoming more widespread throughout Europe.

Metro Group F-Gas Exit Program: natural refrigerants for all new stores

Olaf Schulze of METRO group, which has more than 700 cash and carry stores, as well as more than 300 real hypermarkets, explained the retailer’s move away from f-gases and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. As of 2015, the retailer plans to introduce natural refrigerants in all new stores, where technically possible. This was a decision taken by the Metro AG Sustainability Board and applies to all locations, worldwide.

The shift to natural refrigerants is one of the three pillars of the Metro Group’s F-Gas Exit program, which also includes leakage prevention requiring a stringent maintenance and repair programme, and a logbook for cooling systems (LOCS). The LOCS is an electronic repository for data on leakage adapted to the Metro Group energy management system. Currently the Group’s leakage rate is 14% and they aim to reduce this to 11.6% in 2015.

Schulze went on to present Metro’s F-Gas Exit Program, under which the Metro Group undertook to assess the current HVAC&R installation base, looking at: refrigerant used, age, leakage rate, depreciation status, and location (EU or non EU). 

Currently the retailer has 36 CO2 refrigerated cash and carry’s, representing around 2% of their stores. Based on the assessment 40-70 stores per year will get new modern commercial refrigeration system. This means that in addition to their first CO2 store in China, in 2015 Metro will open new CO2 stores in Russia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. 

Overall, by 2025 1,478 Metro cash and carry HVAC&R units will need to be changed. 

This investment is higher than 1 billion Euros and is the biggest investment programme outside of our expansion program. We are inviting the suppliers and consultants to accompany us and support us in this journey,” explained Schulze.

CO2 is standard for new Delhaize markets

The Delhaize Group has set a goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 2008 by reducing cooling needs, improving management of leakages and implementing new technologies. Today, the Group has deployed 28 CO2 transcritical refrigeration systems and 71 CO2 cascade systems throughout Belgium, Greece and the US. 

In 2013, ATMOsphere Europe participants were invited to visit the Delhaize Group’s first CO2 transcritical installation in Belgium. Still operational, Georgios Patkos reported that the retailer has experienced a few teething problems with the maintenance of the installation linked to falling leaves. However, overall it is running well. Since then, Delhaize has opened a second CO2 transcritical store in October 2014.

In Belgium, the Group has realised a decreasing price gap between natural solutions and those using HFC refrigerants. However, Patkos made clear that for Delhaize, choosing a refrigeration system depends on much more than just initial price, and the retailer’s decision to make CO2 refrigeration technology the standard for new stores is based on close monitoring and calculation of performance. With the plan to continue implementation of CO2 refrigeration systems, Patkos highlighted that particular focus will be attributed to optimising heat recovery and integrating hot water heating.

For me it is very important to know that we will start more CO2 transcritical stores, in other countries, and to be confident that this is the definitive solution – that we won’t have to change refrigerant again in a few years,” said Patkos.

What is next? Delhaize plans the following: 

  • Belgium: 5 CO2 transcritical installations planed per year 
  • Greece: 10 more Cascade CO2/R134A in 2015

For Ahold CO2 transcritical technology is the future

Ahold’s Michel de Rooij presented on the retailer’s plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2015. With a total of 3,200 stores in Europe and North America, de Rooij explained the current situation, and the fact that the US remains a little bit behind Europe when it comes to the adoption of natural refrigerants.

  • US: stores in the USA have now started testing natural refrigerant CO2, a process that began in Europe around 5 years ago. 
  • CZ: the Czech Republic now has 20 hybrids CO2 installations, up from 10 stores two years ago
  • NL: the Netherlands now has 362 are hybrids CO2 installations, compared to 257 two years ago, out of a total of 850 stores. What is more, the R744 technology is used for both refrigeration and store heating. Ahold is reducing emissions by 30%. Leakage rate is 5.5%.

In 2014 Ahold completed 7 CO2 transcritical pilot stores, which compared favourably to the large installed base of hybrid CO2 installations: the CO2 transcritical (TC) stores were cheaper to run and performed better. 

For us, it is very simple mathematics, for us it means that we will switch over to CO2 TC,” said de Rooij. “We add 60-80 stores a year, so we can easily calculate when we will be green, and all our stores refrigerated using CO2,” he added.

In 2010 Ahold switched over to natural refrigerants in plug-ins, as well as creating the CO2 hybrid installations with heating. The retailer also developed a framework for system development that stipulates that the installed base must operate within EU and local legislation. “The EU F-Gas Regulation of 2015 helped us enormously as it provided a clear direction of what we have to do,” explained de Rooij. The framework also stipulates that the promises and targets of Albert Heijn must be fulfilled. These include improving life cycle climate performance (LLCP), reducing total cost of ownership (TCO), and respecting what Ahold calls “next week open”, whereby stores are refurbished in one week.

As part of their efforts to reduce CO2 emissions every year Ahold undertakes an analysis of the total installed base of stores and the refrigerants used, to look for cost effective ways to switch to natural refrigerants.

When is comes to the development of new standard store installations, Ahold works with three competing companies. The development procedures works as follows: after discussions with contractors and partners Ahold benchmarks the contractors and installations, collects proposals from the contractors and uses this information to build state of the art pilot installations. For de Rooij, in order for the roll-out of new systems to be as smooth as possible standardisation is key.

In the future Ahold will invest in adsorption cooling to take advantage of the waste heat. A trial installation in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, is currently being tested. When it comes to their CO2 technology, Ahold will start to invest in parallel compression and ejectors.

Rewe supermarket in Dortmund-Horde, Germany, using natural refrigerants