ATMO Europe: CO2 growing fast for food retail in challenging markets

By Andrew Williams, Nov 20, 2018, 23:55 4 minute reading

German multinational METRO is opening CO2 transcritical supermarkets in China and Russia, while Woolworths is adopting the technology in South Africa, hears ATMOsphere Europe.

Alex Kuzma, Woolworths addresses ATMOsphere Europe in Riva del Garda today.

While acknowledging the challenges in adopting CO2 transcritical technology in countries such as China, Russia and South Africa, food retailers told today’s ATMOsphere Europe conference that they remain more committed to natural refrigerants than ever.

“For us, natural refrigerants are the default option. There is nothing else,” Alex Kuzma of Woolworths, a leading South African multinational retailer, told the ATMOsphere Europe conference in Italy today.

“If you build any other type of store now, you’re building a liability,” Kuzma said.

ATMOsphere Europe, organised by shecco – publisher of this website – is currently taking place in Riva del Garda, Italy (19-21 November).

CO2 ripe for growth in South Africa

Woolworths operates 1,556 stores, serving 15 million customers in 14 countries across the southern hemisphere.

Woolworths first turned to natural refrigerants in October 2009, when it opened its first subcritical CO2 store. It now has nine. It opened its first transcritical CO2 store in November 2010, and currently boasts 69.

“Our CO2 transcritical stores are working very well. We’ve kept our system design very simple, and it’s incredibly reliable,” said Kuzma.

The Woolworths representative spoke of South Africa’s “unique opportunity” to leapfrog HFCs by adopting natural refrigerants as alternatives to HFCs instead.

He cited high initial cost premiums vs. f gas-based systems, fear of the unknown, relative system complexity, difficulties sourcing components, and the development of local skills among the initial obstacles of adopting CO 2 transcritical technology in South African food retail.

Among the CO2 transcritical system innovations that have saved on energy consumption vs. traditional HFC-based systems, Kuzma cited the use of electronic expansion valves (7% energy saving), suction demand (13%), variable speed EC fans (26%), floating head pressures (32%) and variable-speed compressors (45%) alongside the elimination of defrost heating (48%).

Our CO2 transcritical stores are working very well. We’ve kept our system design very simple, and it’s incredibly reliable.
– Alex Kuzma, Woolworths

Accelerate award winner bringing NatRefs to China, Russia

Germany-based METRO AG is a world-leading international wholesale and food retail company that has built a global reputation for environmental protection by committing to reduce CO2 emissions across the group by 50% by 2030 (vs. 2011 levels).

The METRO Group’s F-Gas Exit Program helps to deliver this target. In place since 2013, it aims to phase out f-gases in all METRO stores worldwide by 2030, replacing them with natural refrigerant systems where it is technically and economically feasible to do so.

“All our new store openings and refurbishments only use natural refrigerants,” Olaf Schulze, director – energy, facility and resource management at METRO AG, told the conference.

In recent months METRO has been focusing on new markets in China and Russia. The installation of China’s first transcritical CO2 system in the retail sector, in a METRO wholesale store in the Lishuiqiao area of Beijing (which opened in January 2018), was the first step in a journey that will see the German multinational fit transcritical systems in all its new Chinese stores by 2025 .

This summer, METRO opened its first two CO2 transcritical stores in Russia – in Odintsovo and Aparinki – along with its first in Bulgaria .

Migros committed to natural refrigerants

Migros, the largest retail company in Switzerland, currently includes around 700 supermarkets divided among 14 cooperatives.

Migros Ticino operates in an Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. The cooperative is seeking to reduce its electricity consumption by 10% by 2020 (compared to 2010 levels), improve energy efficiency by 19% by 2020 (compared to 2013 levels), and reduce its GWP by 50% by 2020, 70% by 2025, and 80% by 2030.

“The transition to CO2 transcritical systems, started in 2009, is bringing significant benefits in terms of environmental sustainability and energy saving,” said Andrea Skory, Migros Ticino.

Since 2009, contractor Biaggini (in collaboration with Schneider Electric) has fitted transcritical CO2 systems in all new or refurbished Migros Ticino stores. The systems all offer heat recovery for heating and sanitary uses, and their rated performance is guaranteed in external temperatures of up to 37°C, said Luca Rossi, Biaggini.

Migros Ticino is seeking to convert all its remaining HFC-based stores to CO2 by 2022. In 2019, the cooperative will install its first ‘keys in hand’ solution in Migros Riazzino, where a single CO2 transcritical system will serve the store’s entire air conditioning, heating and refrigeration needs.

Italian retailer turns to natural refrigerants

Iceberg is a leading Italian distributor of fresh and frozen food products to the Ho.Re.Ca. sector. Today the company operates in a 9,000 m 2 plant with 35,000 m3 of cold storage rooms. In 2001, it opened its Fresco & Vario retail division, selling the same products to the general public in five stores across northeast Italy.

Iceberg had traditionally used R22, R404A and R507. It turned to CO2 as an alternative in 2015, installing a transcritical system in a new Fresco & Vario store in Conegliano.

“The future is green. We will surely go CO2 transcritical more in future,” said Oscar Pesavento of Fresco & Vario.

The CO2 transcritical store has delivered average energy savings of 10% compared to the firm’s HFC-based shops.

By Andrew Williams

Nov 20, 2018, 23:55

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