Eliminating hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is just one part of climate-friendly heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. A sustainable solution requires a holistic approach, especially addressing energy usage. Direct emissions from refrigerants account for around 35 % of emissions from cooling systems, the remaining 65 % are caused by indirect emissions from electricity consumption.
Supermarkets consume 3-4 % of the annual electricity production in industrialized countries. They have one of the highest annual energy consumptions among commercial buildings in Europe. With a 35-50 % share of total energy use, the refrigeration and air-conditioning systems must be in the focus for energy efficiency measures in a supermarket. Cooling systems in supermarkets have a long lifespan and decisions being made today on the systems used will have an impact on the climate for many years.
A variety of energy efficient HFC-free refrigeration technologies is available, that cannot only reduce operation costs but at the same time will meet future regulatory measures. Innovations include parallel compression, ejectors, waterloop systems and optimised heat exchangers. Integrating heating and air-conditioning with the refrigeration system and thereby using the free rejected energy further increases the overall efficiency of stores. The energy efficiency of existing refrigeration systems can also be increased through certain design improvements like doors on display cases, rigorous maintenance, servicing, and controls. The use of renewable energy further reduces emissions.
Food retailers should use the opportunity of the global HFC phase-down to simultaneously improve the energy efficiency of their refrigeration systems.