Challenges and Opportunities Presented at Technology Forum on Climate Friendly Alternatives in Commercial Refrigeration

Montreal, Canada, Saturday December 08, 2012: The Technology Forum on Climate Friendly Alternatives in Commercial Refrigeration organized by Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and hosted by Environment Canada, in Montreal Canada on Saturday December 08, 20112, brought together a number of Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) experts, marketing personnel and policy makers to discuss available options in this RAC sub-sector.

Initial discussions focused on an overview of the commercial refrigeration sub-sector and extended further into details on options available for all applications.  An analysis of cost, space, energy-use, safety, regulatory compliance, feasibility of and barriers to the use of climate friendly alternatives were also discussed.  Challenges and opportunities in developing countries was also a main topic examined at the forum.

The forum presented useful information to all the participants.  Several of the presenters indicated that there were many alternatives available for commercial refrigeration and that there is no “one size fits all” scenario currently existing. Additionally, many of the climate friendly alternatives recommended had additional benefits such as improved performance and greater energy efficiencies, particularly the natural refrigerants such as, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and ammonia.  All the presenters on technology options highlighted the need for adequate safety measures to be adhered to and responsible refrigerant management with this use of these alternatives; and that the Life Cycle Climate Performance (LCCP) and the Total Equivalent Warming Impact (TEWI) must be considered in all transitioning applications.

With the transition into these alternatives, many challenges and opportunities would present themselves. Implementing Agencies of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, thoroughly examined this area.  Several challenges were highlighted: these challenges were diverse and spread over several areas including lack of standards and policy measures, lack of training, equipment, components and limited technical capacities of service technicians to deal with the alternative options. Other challenges include costs and financing, market conditions, availability and applicability of the options in some regions and the lack of leadership from the private sector.

Meanwhile, there were much fewer opportunities to be derived from the transition.  However, it was indicated that there would be opportunities, to promote low global warming potential (GWP) alternatives, both form a “bottom up” and “top down perspective.  There would also be opportunities for the international food and beverage industry to filter technologies from developed industrialized countries into the developing world.  Educational institutions will also have opportunities to design and execute focused training that would develop and promote the technical capabilities of commercial refrigeration technicians.  The manner in which these challenges and opportunities are confronted and embraced respectively can determine the level of acceptance and implementation of these options presented, particularly in developing countries.

The forum concluded with a field visit to Sobeys IGA, an international ultra-modern supermarket where the transition has already been made to climate friendly trans-critical carbon dioxide (CO2) for all of the refrigeration equipment.

Participants commended and thanked the organizers for a well planned and executed forum that addressed several important topics related to technology options in commercial refrigeration.

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