UK a leader in transcritical CO2 refrigeration

London, UK: Next to Denmark, where HFCs are banned, the UK is leading the way in the adoption of CO2 transcritical refrigeration systems in European supermarkets. According to natural refrigerants group Shecco, the UK currently has 267 supermarkets running transcritical CO2 systems, behind Denmark’s 424, but way ahead of Germany (166), Switzerland (149) and Norway (134).

Much has happened since the first UK system was installed in a Tesco supermarket in Swansea in 2006 but the achievement is the more remarkable in that the UK does not tax or regulate high GWP refrigerants like Denmark and Switzerland or receive the financial incentives to adopt natural refrigerants as happens in Germany.

The first supermarket CO2 transcritical system was installed in Coop Lestans, Italy. Since then, Europe has become the unrivaled technology and adoption leader for HFC-free commercial refrigeration systems. By early 2012, industry experts estimated that around 1,200 food retail stores were already using CO2 transcritical commercial refrigeration systems in the 27 EU Member States. This was in addition to the thousands of CO2 cascade systems.

There is, however, a large difference in adoption rates between countries. While Italy was the home of the first CO2 system, it now boasts just six CO2 transcritical systems. France, which places severe restrictions on the use of ammonia and hydrocarbons in public buildings, has also been slow to adopt CO2 with just two stores running on transcritical systems.

The information is contained in the new Shecco publication Natural Refrigerants Market Growth for Europe which looks at the current and future prospects for ammonia, CO2 and hydrocarbons. While the report expects the market share of equipment using natural refrigerants to increase substantially in the coming years, a lack of training and the high capital cost of natural refrigerant systems are seen as major barriers.

Copies of the report can be found on the Shecco website