Energy consumption in food retail stores and in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems are key factors needing improvement. This includes avoiding too much heating, addressing how we use heat waste and renewable energies, and integrating an energy management strategy.
Eliminating hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is just one aspect of making heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems climate-friendly. A sustainable solution requires a holistic approach, especially in addressing energy usage. Direct emissions from refrigerants account for around 35% of emissions from cooling systems, whilst the remaining 65% are caused by indirect emissions from electricity consumption.
Supermarkets consume 3-4% of electricity produced annually 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, refrigeration and air-conditioning systems must be the focus of energy efficiency measures in supermarkets. Cooling systems in supermarkets have a long lifespan and today's decisions on how these systems are used will have an impact on the climate for many years to come.
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 refrigeration systems makes use of the free rejected energy and further increases stores' overall efficiency. The energy efficiency of existing refrigeration systems can also be increased through certain design improvements such as display case doors, rigorous maintenance, servicing and controls. The use of renewable energy reduces emissions even further.
Food retailers should make the most of the global HFC phase-down to simultaneously improve the energy efficiency of their refrigeration systems.