ATMOsphere Europe market trends: efficient solutions for southern Europe on the rise, doubters proved wrong

By Robert Davidson, Mar 19, 2015, 16:48 4 minute reading

The message from ATMOsphere Europe 2015 was clear: the CO2 market in the EU is still in its ascendency. Although yet to reach its peak due to limitations in training as well as full acceptance as a solution for southern Europe, all trends are pointing to these barriers being overcome in the near future. The supply of CO2 transcritical systems continues to grow, with new players entering the market, and new technologies are increasing efficiency in warm ambient climates.

This year’s ATMOsphere Europe, organised from 15-17 March in Brussels, presented a transformation of the market outlook for R744. Industry stakeholders are now less concerned with stating the case for CO2 refrigeration, and focused instead on ensuring that CO2 becomes the preferred refrigerant in both the north and south of Europe. Presenters from Carrier, Advansor, EPTA, Danfoss and Green & Cool spoke proudly of the in-roads that CO2 has made in Europe but noted there is room for improvement with regards to the availability of training and ubiquitous implementation of solutions for those countries that lie beneath the moribund ‘CO2 equator’.

CO2 technology is available, in demand and heading south

Stuart Webb of Carrier gave a clear image of where the market is at present; noting that year-on-year growth of cascade systems was an impressive 51% but that this increase was being outstripped by transcritical refrigeration systems which have increased by 63% from 2013 to 2014. The once ‘alternative refrigerant’ has now become a mainstream solution with Carrier quoting a recent report by Carrier and shecco which stated that CO2 refrigeration systems in commercial refrigeration have a penetration rate of 64%.

Advansor’s Torben Hansen also noted the upturn in business for CO2 systems stating that “Advansor have had a tripling in enquiries” over the last two years; with the request of CO2 boosters also increasing. This shows that the growth is not just in the north of Europe but also the south. Mr. Hansen was not the only presenter who referenced the advancement in CO2 technology for southern European countries where higher-ambient temperatures previously had an undesired effect on the efficiency of R744. CO2 boosters, gas ejectors and parallel-compression were just some of the solutions predicted to sound the death knell for the so-called ‘CO2 equator’.

This promise of continued growth of CO2 - especially in the south - was reinforced by Adrian Forastier in a keynote dinner speech:
“Carrier is committed to take this CO2 standard to the South, by taking the technologies that were mentioned such as ejectors, economizers and sub-coolers and combining these to create efficient systems.”

Franceso Mastrapasqua from EPTA, was equally optimistic about the future of CO2 systems. He picked out hypermarkets as an emerging adopter of transcritical systems, outgrowing the discount retailer sector. Mastrapasqua believes that in the future the greater adoption of these systems due to the banishing of efficiency concerns and positive EU policy will lead to cheaper system costs thanks to economies of scale.

Confirmation from Antoine Azar of The Coca Cola Company that they are currently using R744 alongwith with hydrocarbons in 96% of their global fleet of vending machines and drinks dispensers shows that this is no longer a small operation, but that R744 is a mainstream solution. This was confirmed by shecco's Nina Masson who showed that the developments in Europe are having reverberations all around the world with an increase in uptake of CO2 in North America, China and Japan being presented alongside a sneak peek into shecco's upcoming publication GUIDE China - The State of the Industry 2015.

Keen to move on from past concerns about the complexity of CO2 transcritical systems, Michel Antonsson of Green & Cool stated simply, “we can deliver these results as we know the technologies work”.

Training a ‘must’ and a key focus for all

While demand was seen as growing, participants were reluctant to say ‘job done’, due the underdevelopment of training for CO2, and natural refrigerants in general.

Danfoss’s Torben Funder-Kirstensen noted despite the new EU F-Gas Regulation, there are still roadblocks on the path to natural refrigerants. Amongst issues such as a lack of clear directive on energy efficiency, Funder-Kirstensen singled out training as an area that needs work.

Mastrapasqua of EPTA echoed this point:
"Training is an essential asset for the whole industry, as we have the possibility to overcome doubts and point customers in the right direction.”

To address this issue EPTA has operated a training academy for cascade and transcritical systems in the UK since 2009. A success since its opening, the academy has been fully-booked most weeks.

Also tackling these concerns was Carrier, who announced the launch their new CO2 training academy, the Co2olacademy, later this March. Based in Germany, the Co2olacademy will provide a 400m2 mock-up supermarket with functioning CO2 systems, which will help train people to use these systems safely and knowledgeably.

Additional calls for increased training from several other presenters during ATMOsphere Europe 2015, make it clear that as the industry looks to the south to help complete the puzzle, that training must not be forgotten. As Matrapasqua said, when you “need an engineer for a problem for your CO2 or hydrocarbons system at 2am in the morning”, regardless of whether your installation is in Spain or Norway, the only difficulty should be deciding which of your engineers to call.


By Robert Davidson

Mar 19, 2015, 16:48

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