As part of its F-Gas Exit Program (FEP), German wholesale giant METRO AG has started to install plug-in commercial display cases with propane (R290) for low-temperature applications in India and Pakistan.

Since 2020, two new stores in India have been equipped with propane (R290), in island freezers, according to Olaf Schulze, Director of Energy Management at METRO Properties. The stores are located in Guntur and Vizag.

Equipping the new Guntur and Vizag stores was the start of a process to replace existing R404A plug-in freezers with R290 air-cooled units, which are supplied by AHT Daikin, in 16 of the 30 METRO stores in India, said Schulze. The retrofit program began on October 1, the start of METRO’s fiscal year, and it also includes existing stores in Pakistan, where METRO operates 10 stores.

Previously, METRO India replaced R404A multideck chillers with R290 chillers from Kaplanlar Refrigeration, a Turkish OEM, in existing stores in Kolkata and Hyderabad, India

With hydrocarbon plug-in cases, refrigerant leaks are reduced “dramatically,” said Schulze, adding that METRO “is convinced” it can achieve greater than 20% energy savings with the hydrocarbon units compared to f-gas equipment.

In addition, METRO plans to replace existing centralized refrigeration systems at the end of their lifecycle in India and Pakistan stores with R448A or CO2-based refrigeration systems

Carbon neutrality by 2040

The moves in India and Pakistan are part of METRO’s ambitious F-Gas Exit Program, launched in 2013. It is a key driver of the company’s goal to reduce its CO2e emissions by 50% before 2030, compared to 2011 numbers, and be climate neutral in own operations by 2040. 

The FEP is progressing well so far, contributing to METRO’s reduction of CO2e emissions by 34% at the end of 2020. 

METRO is also hoping to start replacing centralized f-gas systems with transcritical CO2 in India and Pakistan within the next few years, but there is no set date as of yet, Schulze said. The project to get the replacement underway is part of a collaboration with Professor Armin Hafner and the Norwegian University of Technology. METRO is also in talks with Carrier or Bluestar Daikin and their global counterparts about bringing CO2 technology to India with all needed after sales services.

“We have no fixed schedule for now, but we hope to be able to move fast. Our colleagues are open-minded, and we will see what is technically and commercially possible,” Schulze said.

As of September 2021, METRO had 134 stores with transcritical CO2 refrigeration, of which 37 are equipped with ejector technology. The stores are located mostly in Europe, including Russia.

METRO also installs R290 low-temperature plug-in cases as part of its “smart repair” program in European stores where medium-temperature cases are running well.  

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