Metro Cash and Carry Japan, a division of German retailer Metro AG, reduced its electricity use by close to 60% by replacing 200 HFC display cases at three locations with propane (R290) plug-in units, said Kenji Funamori, Construction and Fitting Manager in METRO Cash and Carry Japan’s Asset Management Department.

“We have recently retrofitted 200 R290 plug-in cabinets in three of our stores,” said Funamori, speaking during the end user panel discussion at ATMOsphere Japan 2020, held in Tokyo on February 10. “It is the first such case of such a large-scale retrofit for us in Japan. Our electricity demand has been greatly reduced and we have also reduced our maintenance and repair costs.”

The cabinets were supplied by Austrian OEM AHT through its distribution partnership with Japan-based company Nihon Netsugen Systems. 

In addition to energy and maintenance cost reductions, one of the biggest reasons the large-scale retrofit project was successful, Funamori said, was because all cabinets were installed without stopping store operations.

Funamori said the installation of electric cables was completed prior to bringing in the cabinets. An advantage of going with the plug-in systems, he added, was that there was no gas piping work or drainage work.

The installation of the cabinets was done at night over a period of five days with work starting after 6pm and finishing before the store opened at 6am.

“In addition,” Funamori said, “future layout flexibility of the cabinets is possible and because it is not a remote system, if one cabinet fails, it can easily be replaced without interrupting the operation of the other cabinets.”

One-third of the total cost of the initial investment, Funamori said, was covered by the Japanese Government’s Ministry of Environment natural refrigerant subsidy.

One of the project’s challenges, Funamori said, was that there is only a limited lineup of R290 cabinet types available, citing a lack of “chilled type, vertical type and cold room type cabinets.”

Want to find out more, or have something to say about this story? Join the ATMO Connect network to meet and engage with like-minded stakeholders in the clean cooling and natural refrigerant arena.