By Caixia Mao, Jun 08, 2015, 10:15 • 4 minute reading
At China Refrigeration 2015, R744.com talked to Zhang Tingxun from General Fushi, a local system manufacturer who showcased a new CO2 solution for commercial refrigeration. General Fushi’s hybrid CO2 technology has already been adopted by retail giant Metro Group for their first CO2 store in China, which opened in December 2014. According to Zhang the system manufacturer has ambitious expansion plans for CO2 refrigeration in China.
Shanghai General Fushi Refrigeration Equipment was established in 1997 and focuses on the manufacture of commercial refrigeration equipment such as cabinets, compressor racks, condensers and unit coolers for hypermarkets, mid-size stores and convenience stores. At China Refrigeration 2015, they were one of only a few Chinese manufacturers to showcase CO2 solutions for commercial refrigeration.
Installed by German retailer Metro at a store in the Shandong province, the hybrid CO2/R134a system, which features CO2 cabinets and R134a chillers, has achieved a very stable performance so far. Compared to an R404a system, the R134a/CO2 technology can reduce CO2 emission by 65% and result in energy savings of 30%. According to Joeroen de Groot, the head of Metro China, promoting sustainable development is one of the key objectives of the Metro Group, with CO2 refrigeration expected to play an important role in the company’s development.
R744.com: Why did General Fushi start working with CO2 technology?
Zhang Tingxun: One of the reasons was that we saw that in Europe CO2 technology for food retail applications is already very popular and so we are trying our best to prepare for a similar boom in CO2 applications in China. We started by working with local company Fute and key component suppliers such as Dorin and Carel to design and build our CO2 products and systems. We will set up a transcritical CO2 system test facility in our laboratory as well as provide training to build up customer confidence in this technology. We will also work with Fute to extensively promote subcritical systems. Meanwhile, we are preparing the meet high customer demand expected for CO2 transcritical systems.
R744.com: Can you tell us more about General Fushi’s plans for CO2 commercial refrigeration in China?
Zhang: General Fushi’s philosophy is to provide energy efficient and green solutions by focusing on product and technology development. From now on we will focus on CO2 solutions and increase lab-testing capacity to quality check CO2 cabinets. Together with local contractor Fute we would like to find locations in China to build CO2 transcritical stores.
R744.com: What regulatory challenges still exist when it comes to CO2 installations in supermarkets in China?
Zhang: Today R404a is still the most popular refrigerant for food retailers in China and it will dominate in the next few years as well. Without introducing taxes on high-GWP refrigerants to provide incentives for natural refrigerant use, the use of CO2 in stores in China will be restricted. However, with the Chinese government’s increasing emphasis on environmental protection and energy saving, I think CO2 as a refrigerant has a big market potential in commercial refrigeration in China.
R744.com: What do you think is needed to help promote CO2 in commercial refrigeration in China?
Zhang: CO2 technology is definitely the future in China. In order to promote this technology quickly, we need government support for end users. Currently Tesco and Metro are the only end users using this technology in China. We would like to see more international and Chinese brands start to supply CO2 technology. As demand from end users increases, this will help to reduce initial investment costs, as well as operating costs as people become more familiar with the technology.
R744.com: How many CO2 stores do you predict there will be in China in 2020?
Zhang: The first CO2 store opened in China in 2011. Today, there are almost 10 CO2 stores that are operating or under construction. In the next two years, an additional 10 to 15 CO2 stores will be ready. More and more international and Chinese end users will start to try CO2. By 2020, it would not be difficult to have 60 to 80 CO2 stores in China. Meanwhile, at least two to three transcritical projects will in ready within the next five years. I am very confident that CO2 technology will boom in China. I think that government support, increased customer confidence, together with high efficieny and cost reduction will accelerate the uptake of CO2 technology in food retail applications.
Background on the first CO2 stores in China
The first CO2 hybrid store in China was opened by global brand Tesco in 2011, in Shanghai. Today Tesco has five CO2 stores in China.
The Metro Group opened its first CO2 hybrid store in Shandong province in 2014. In 2015, Metro will open one new CO2 store and remodel another five to use CO2 hybrid technology. From 2016 onwards, the CO2 hybrid system is planned to become Metro China’s standard technology, with five new stores planned and six remodels. Moreover, in 2016/2017, Metro is planning to complete its first Chinese CO2 transcritical store.
Whilst still a niche market, there is a general trend towards CO2 in commercial refrigeration in China, with an increasing supply of CO2 solutions from global and local manufacturers. This shift has been supported by the Chinese government, who in 2015 have made it clear that they promote CO2 commercial refrigeration technology for supermarkets.