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California considers low GWP incentives

Danfoss_SymposiumUSA: The State of California is considering offering financial incentives for those moving to new, low-GWP commercial refrigeration systems.

Speaking at  Danfoss’ 25th EnVisioneering Symposium in San Diego, Pamela Gupta, manager, greenhouse gas reduction strategy section, California Air Resources Board (CARB), revealed that financial incentives were amongst a number of measures under consideration by the US State.

Having introduced HFC restrictions as long ago as 2006, California has gained a reputation for introducing environment laws ahead of Federal legislation.

As keynote speaker at this year’s event, Gupta revealed that the financial incentives under consideration would apply to new commercial refrigeration systems using a refrigerant with a GWP of under 150. CARB was also looking at a ban on the sale of the very high-GWP refrigerants with GWP of 2500 or greater; a phase down of HFC production and consumption similar to the amendment proposed by North America to the Montreal Protocol; a prohibition of high-GWP refrigerants in new stationary refrigeration and air-conditioning systems; and imposing, as yet undefined, limits on refrigerant GWPs.

California has already established reduction targets for short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including a 40% reduction of F-gas emissions by 2030 based on current (2013) levels. SLCPs also include methane and black carbon.

California sees such regulatory actions in California helping to dictate the path forward for other states. However, as participants pointed out, there remains a sense of uncertainty within industry about how to proceed, particularly as doing business across state lines means a complex web of compliance – in conjunction with those set forth by US Environmental Protection Agency – and the lifespan of allowed substances is not guaranteed.

Driving changes

Launched in 2006, the EnVisioneering Symposia Series brings together industry, the policy community, and thought leaders in research and development. As the third symposium dedicated to issues in commercial refrigeration, this symposium convened nearly 50 leaders from industry – including equipment manufacturers and end users, policy, and utilities, and was held in San Diego.

Entitled Refrigerants2Sustainability: Risks, Options, & Opportunities in Commercial Refrigeration, this latest EnVisioneering Symposium, addressed how an increasing industry-wide focus on refrigerants and energy is driving changes in the design, deployment, and maintenance of refrigeration equipment and supermarkets and in the potential for industry-utility partnerships.

Keilly Witman of KW Refrigerant Management Strategy explained that for supermarkets, the goal is an end-game refrigerant solution – not interim, incremental changes.

“The choice is not where [the industry] is going to wind up [in terms of refrigerant options], it’s when do you want to move in that direction and how many steps do you want to take in between because financial choices may be limited.”

Whole Foods Market, which operates over 400 supermarkets across America, reported promising energy efficiency data from the 14 stores its has with natural refrigerant systems. Tristam Coffin, Whole Foods Market’s sustainable facilities coordinator, noted, however, that the natural refrigerant stores require revised safety precautions and procedures, and emphasised the increased importance of collaboration and commissioning among all stakeholders, including controls and equipment manufacturers, in the design, installation, and maintenance phases of a store.

A NH3/CO2 cascade ]system is supplying the refrigeration at this Piggly Wiggly store in Columbus, Georgia

Paul Anderson, senior group manager – engineering, Target Corporation, described similar successes with CO2 refrigeration systems in terms of reduced energy consumption and carbon impact. He added, however, that achieving greater efficiency levels means finding a balance between energy efficiency and refrigerant GWP – especially considering the store’s geographical location, climate, and format. In stand-alone coolers, Target has also used refrigeration systems with R290 and has found the total energy savings to be greater than similar coolers with CO2.

Masood Ali, global leader of Heatcraft Worldwide Refrigeration’s Center of Excellence for Alternative Systems, explained how an NH3/CO2 cascade refrigeration system is optimising the life cycle climate performance at a recently-opened Piggly Wiggly store in Columbus, Georgia. The use of an HFC-free system, he noted, is helping to reduce the system’s total cost of ownership by up to 20%, and, due to ammonia’s thermophysical properties, should be at least 15% more efficient although other tests have proven ammonia to be approximately 25% more energy efficient.

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