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  • Author: Olaf Schulze

METRO's programme to reduce emissions from fluorinated refrigerants in cooling systems

F-Gas Exit Programme

This article includes several parts:

By 2030, METRO GROUP will have phased out the use of HFC worldwide. It has launched an “F-Gas Exit Programme” to reduce emissions from refrigerants.

F-Gas Exit Programme at store level

The F-Gas Exit Programme (FEP) is a worldwide programme executed at store level. It includes a schedule and budget planning for the refurbishment of the existing cooling equipment and its switch to natural refrigerants. Most of the cooling equipment in the existing stores will be exchanged by 2025 according to their lifecycle. The process will be completed more or less by 2030.

METRO Cash & Carry currently operates more than 40 transcritical (full CO2 in chilling and cooling part) and 65 subcritical (chilling with R 134A/cooling CO2) sorts of cooling equipment worldwide, and every year the number of CO2 systems is increasing. All logistics sites will be operated with ammonia only.

New store openings are not included in the FEP, because these will be carried out from the beginning according to the same criteria with natural refrigerants (e.g., Venelle/FR or Madrid-Bajaras/ES transcritical cooling equipment 2015).

We also sometimes use drop-in solutions. If technically possible, we exchange and refill existing equipment refrigerants with GWP < 2,500. This is not a part of the FEP because it is usually a maintenance measure. Within FEP, such cooling equipment will be replaced with natural refrigerants after the end of its lifetime, but drop-in extends the service life until the equipment is exchanged.

We know that a lot of equipment has to be exchanged between 2025 and 2030, especially when a remodelling of the stores is currently planned or required according to the lifecycle (e.g., R404a equipment installed partially until 2014).

Programme for the future

Generally, we will complete the F-Gas Exit Programme by 2025, and until 2030 we will only work on individual plants.

Within the FEP, only natural refrigerants can be used and generally only transcritical CO2 equipment can be installed, but also propane or propene, except if any of these solutions are technically not possible. A technical impossibility exists either if a technical solution is not available for extraordinary climatic reasons (India, South of China) or if proper maintenance and repair cannot be guaranteed (Pakistan). Each issue has to be assessed on an individual basis. Therefore, we are currently only installing CO2 cascades in China and Russia, meaning subcritical (chilling with R 134A/cooling CO2) equipment, and we have only started with transcritical (full CO2 in chilling and cooling part) pilots. Cooling equipment using the HFO refrigerant R1234ze as well as a GWP 4 are currently installed as technical pilot in Brno/CZ as an exception.

Until 2030, METRO Cash & Carry will reduce the climate impact from refrigerants by 95%, compared with 2011. The total physical exit from the use of synthetic refrigerants is not possible, because for technical and lifecycle reasons, our portfolio will still include a small number of cooling systems that do not use natural refrigerants after 2030, for example, the current equipment in Russia and China, to install subcritical systems. They will be exchanged after 2030 according the technical life cycle.

Within the FEP, we will implement the best technological standard for our equipment and enable the operation of transcritical plants in climate zones where this is not achievable at present. Currently, boosters are the standard, but in warmer climate zones, this technology can lead to a higher energy demand. To secure the use of transcritical equipment in subtropical areas and to optimise the electricity demand, we would like to start the implementation of ejector technology soon. The first ejectors are installed in our stores in the Netherlands and France.

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Olaf Schulze

Information about the author

Olaf Schulze is Head of Energy Management at METRO AG.

This article includes several parts: