CCAC Forum: Climate-friendly commercial refrigeration solutions for developing economies

By Alexandra Maratou, Dec 14, 2012, 15:08 3 minute reading

The Technology Forum of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) held on 8 December 2012 in Montreal, aimed to identify low-GWP technologies in commercial refrigeration, which could be applied in developing economies that are currently phasing out HCFCs and need to select replacements. Discussions focused on opportunities and barriers in relation to adopting low-GWP technologies, including natural refrigerant solutions in these countries.

Looking at the success stories of deploying HFC-free commercial refrigeration technologies in Europe, USA and Japan, the forum discussed which of these could be easily rolled out in developing countries (Article 5 countries) in light of HCFC phase-out and minimising climate impacts of the next generation of equipment. Hydrocarbon plug-in cabinets, the integrated propane-based refrigeration solution with temper as secondary refrigerant deployed by Lidl, but also cascade CO2 refrigeration systems for supermarkets were pointed out as technologies that are technically ready to be applied in developing and emerging economies where typically higher ambient temperatures occur.

Lidl’s HC solution applicable in warm climates

With almost 10,000 stores located in over 20 countries encompassing different climate conditions ranging from Northern Finland to Southern Cyprus, Lidl has been looking for a standard refrigeration solution that would be suitable for all of its stores. The integrated propane-based system that has been implemented in over 150 stores so far, reduces the overall power consumption by 10% as compared to conventional stores. Moreover, it uses 100% less energy for heating, as the heat released from the refrigeration cabinets is recovered and reused.

Several speakers highlighted that this model could be successfully adopted in developing economies that have a unique opportunity to leapfrog HFCs by deploying technology that has no ozone depleting effect, as well as minimal global warming potential, and will therefore not need to be replaced by yet another technology in the future. However, several barriers need to be addressed.

Barriers to introduction of natural refrigerants in developing countries

Some of the main obstacles that prevent a swift adoption of natural refrigerant-based technology in developing countries include:

Training: One of the biggest barriers to date that resonated among the speakers of the forum is related to the training of technicians. Not only is the number of refrigeration personnel limited, but also they are often not professionally trained to work with flammable refrigerants, such as hydrocarbons, which could pose substantial risks.

Cost of equipment: Another common barrier is the initial cost of the HFC-free technology and lack of funding for manufacturers of commercial refrigeration to convert their production facilities to low-GWP technology. While the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol provides some funding for the phase-out of HCFC in developing economies, this is targeted at a limited number of large manufacturers that can phase out a high volume of ozone depleting substances. However, for small and medium enterprises, which often happen to be the main producers of plug-in equipment, funding is limited.

Some speakers receommended that rather than looking at the initial cost of equipment, the return on investment should be considered, which would accelerate the adoption of natural refrigerant-based equipment.

Regulatory restrictions: Standards have been highlighted as another major obstacle either due to the lack of standards in certain countries or as a result of their strictness in limiting the refrigerant charge.

Dependency on imports: A number of smaller developing countries, such as Grenada and other Caribbean countries do not have production sites that would satisfy the demand for refrigeration technology and are therefore highly dependent on imports. In such countries that are “technology takers“ the transition is delayed the non-availability of low-GWP solutions from the companies that ship the technology.

Lack of attention of decision-makers and exchange of good practice: Another barrier in adopting climate-friendly technology is the lack of awareness of many end-users and investors that opt to shift from ozone-depleting substance to high GWP refrigerants. Experience-exchange tools within a country or internationally could facilitate the transition, particularly of small and medium enterprises.  


By Alexandra Maratou

Dec 14, 2012, 15:08

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