Today, synthetic refrigerants are used in refrigeration systems throughout the world, contributing significantly to CO2 emissions and global warming as quite large amounts of these refrigerants are leaked into the atmosphere. Experiences show that supermarkets typically reduce CO2 emissions by 30% when they replace synthetic refrigerants with natural refrigerants like CO2. However, less than 1% of supermarkets globally use natural refrigerants today.
The question is, why aren’t natural refrigerants used to a greater extent? Danfoss, together with others, has come up with reliable and efficient solutions that make the use of CO2 refrigerants possible. So the technological barrier no longer exists. The answer must be found elsewhere and here I think the investment cost plays an important role. In general, the initial cost of CO2 refrigeration systems is higher than that of traditional systems as the products are not yet produced in high enough numbers. Below, I will share my view on how we can overcome this challenge:
Governments can help speed up the process
Governments can help speed up the process of spreading natural refrigerants through legislation, standardization or softer political measures. Good examples of that can be found in northern Europe. In Denmark, for example, the government has implemented a global warming-based taxation of refrigerants and placed a charge limitation of 10kg on systems with the synthetic HFC refrigerant. As a result, all new and re-furbished stores in Denmark use CO2 as the refrigerant.
Broader experience and awareness is needed
Another way to overcome the challenge is to encourage contractors, for example, to get experience with natural refrigerant solutions. As more get involved, it will naturally bring down costs. In general, awareness about the availability of CO2 solutions also needs to be raised and as market leader, it is part of our role to help undertake that task.
Operating costs must be considered
One of the most important things is the initial cost but operating costs must also be considered and based on our experience, these are lower in many cases due to energy savings and less money being spent on leaking refrigerants. We are interested in ensuring as low costs as possible for the supermarkets. The key to this is to use and combine both new technologies and natural refrigerants in the right way so they best meet different climate conditions.
What do you think it takes to switch from synthetic to natural refrigerants and realize the huge potential for CO2 reduction?