A new wave of technology is spurring a European refrigeration revolution – slashing energy usage and eliminating the need for harmful chemicals.

Launching its new report 'Chilling Facts V', the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said supermarket chains throughout the EU, and particularly in the UK, were moving away from traditional hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) towards natural refrigerants, reaping big benefits in the process.

HFCs are a fluorinated or F-gas, hundreds or thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) and responsible for about two per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. They are used widely in refrigeration and leak into the atmosphere.

Companies responding to EIA highlighted the energy efficiency savings of new HFC-free systems; in Switzerland, Co-op Schweiz found annual energy efficiency improvements of 30 per cent over its previous HFC systems, with additional heat recovery benefits, while Carrefour's HFC-free store in Turkey reports energy efficiency improvements of about 15 per cent.

Chilling Facts V also found a significant rise in the number of stores adopting HFC-free systems.

"Moving away from HFCs is a double win for the climate, reducing energy demand and eliminating the need for these climate-damaging refrigerants," said EIA Senior Campaigner Fionnuala Walravens.

The report comes just days after the G20 agreed to use the resources of the Montreal Protocol to phase-down HFCs and as the European Union debates new rules to cut HFC emissions.

Walravens added: "European companies lead the world in natural refrigerant technology. The EU's new rules should support this green economy and ensure a swift reduction in the availability of HFCs, supported by bans in new refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment."

Fridge by Sannse at En Wikimedia Commons

Fridge by Sannse at En Wikimedia Commons

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