June 7, 2004

More efficient refrigeration system helps new Loblaws cut energy, GHGs

The refrigeration system in the new Loblaws store in Repentigny, Quebec, is putting the chill on more than just frozen veggies. The technology-the first of its kind in Canada-is also reducing the energy costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from the operation of the supermarket.

By using the refrigeration technology, developed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and incorporated into the store's heating, cooling and ventilation system, the Repentigny Loblaws, which opened on April 28, aims to reduce its energy consumption by about 50%. Its GHG emissions are projected to be 75% below those from an equivalent conventional supermarket, a reduction in volume of approximately 1,500 tonnes. This volume is equal to the GHG emissions produced by 300 family cars driven 20,000 kilometres a year.

Loblaws Properties is contributing more than $2 million toward the $3.3-million pilot project, while NRCan and the Technology Early Action Measures (TEAM) component of the federal government's Climate Change Action Fund is contributing $888,500. Other partners in the project include Hydro-Quebec, the Agence de l'efficacitÈ ÈnergÈtique du QuÈbec, and equipment suppliers such as Hill Phoenix, Hussman, Keeprite, Micro Thermo and Consolidated Energy Solution.

NRCan's CANMET Energy Technology Centre in Varennes (CETC-Varennes) developed the technology and provided scientific and technical leadership. It will continue to evaluate the project and develop information and products to build the capacity of Canadian industry to implement such systems across the country.

Refrigeration typically accounts for 50% of supermarkets' energy costs. Incorporating energy-efficient technologies and practices can cut these costs by as much as 45%. Studies carried out by CETC-Varennes have shown that supermarkets could save up to 1,800 gigawatt-hours of energy and reduce GHGs by the equivalent of 3.5 megatonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

Reducing refrigerant charges and losses is also a key element of the program. A typical supermarket loses 25% of its initial refrigerant charge every year. This lost refrigerant is a major contributor to climate change, adding the equivalent of up to 1.4 megatonnes of CO2 emissions throughout Canada.

CETC-Varennes' approaches and technologies allow supermarkets to use smaller amounts of refrigerants, reduce leaks and make the best use of energy. The centre also carries out research and development on CO2 use in secondary-loop refrigeration systems, on adapting refrigeration technologies to the Canadian climate, and on integrating these technologies with heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems to improve buildings' overall energy efficiency.

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