R744.com met with Georg Weinhofer, Head of the Specialist Department Energy/CO2 at Coop Switzerland and responsible, since 2009, for the implementation and communication of Coop Group's vision “CO2-neutral by 2023”. Mr. Weinhofer highlights that training, safety, and maintenance should not be considered as obstacles to CO2 systems installations in Switzerland.
How many Coop stores are using natural refrigerants in Switzerland?
Georg Weinhofer: Around 190 stores – that’s 25% of our supermarkets.
Which refrigerants are they using?
Weinhofer: Almost all of them are using CO2 in concordance with our company’s ambition to be CO2-neutral by 2023. Our logistics centers are using ammonia, and we are planning the opening of our largest logistics center by 2015, which will be equipped with an ammonia system as well.
Could you tell us more about Coop’s vision to be “CO2-neutral by 2023”?
Weinhofer: Coop Switzerland has always been a very eco-friendly company. Sustainability is an integral part of our business strategy. In 2008 the vision "CO2-neutral by 2023" was set. First, until 2023 all technical possible and financial feasible measures will be undertaken to reduce Coop's absolute CO2 emissions. The remaining emissions will be offset starting in 2023.
One of the defined measures for the reduction of CO2 emissions is the installation of CO2 system in our supermarkets. Since 2010 all our new stores or renovation projects include the installation of a CO2 system. As already mentioned, already 25% of our supermarkets have a CO2 system.
In 10 years time, following up on our HFC phase out, all of our supermarkets will be equipped with CO2. Our investment cycle, being of 15 years, meaning the Coop stores opened around 2008, will be renovated accordingly to reach our final objective: to be 100% CO2 neutral by 2023.
Would you say that using CO2 in your stores brings additional safety and maintenance costs?
Weinhofer: We have a full service contract so the installation company is responsible for the maintenance. We are running more cost-effectively with CO2. We have 190 CO2 stores in Switzerland and we have not encountered any problems or incidents so far.
Do you know what the percentage of energy savings per year in a typical store is?
Weinhofer: I can tell you that CO2 systems need 30% on average less electricity than traditional systems.
Would you say that training for retailers and end-users is insufficient?
Weinhofer: As already mentioned, we have a full service contract with our installation company. They are hiring well-trained technicians and engineers who are responsible for training. For us training is not an issue. We trust our installers; they are well trained. They provide us with their certificates and we trust these certifications. And of course we know and apply necessary emergency procedures if and when necessary.
About Georg Weinhofer
Since September 2009 Georg Weinhofer is head of the specialist department Energy/CO2 at Coop. Hence he is responsible for the realisation, coordination, and communication of Coop's vision “CO2-neutral by 2023”. Georg Weinhofer holds a bachelor and master diploma in industrial engineering and management from Graz University of Technology, Austria, with focus on energy and environmental technology. Before joining Coop he was working as a research assistant at the Chair for Sustainability and Technology of ETH Zurich where he obtained a Ph.D. with a thesis on corporate mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.