Energy Efficiency Becomes Top Priority

NUREMBERG, Germany — Now that the refrigeration part of hvacr has somewhat settled the refrigerant question (R-404A or R-507 in lieu of R-502), what’s the next challenge?

The answer in Europe is energy efficiency. In a report issued here during the most recent Inter-national Trade Fair for Refriger-ating and Air Conditioning (IKK), expo officials said that “The refrigeration branch expects important signals on the subject of energy savings in the coming years.”

While noting falling electricity prices in general, the report, prepared by trade associations for contractors and manufacturers, maintained that “Energy costs are a major component of the cost structure for operators of refrigeration plants such as supermarkets, bakeries, or butcheries.”

While regular maintenance is important, the report also said some plants could benefit from a major overhaul “for both economic and ecological aspects.

“Various concepts are available for today’s refrigeration plant assemblers, ranging from simple energy-saving components such as electronic refrigeration controllers, to intelligent, adaptive electronic controls with remote monitoring and load-based power matching for compressors.”

The report contended savings could range from 25% to 40%, depending on the condition of the plant.

Outmoded Technology

One problem, the report said, is that many plants in Europe are operating on a cold-vapor process dating back to the early 1800s. “Such a process requires a simple refrigeration circuit [comprising] a compressor, evaporator, regulating device, collector, and condenser.”

But that technology can be improved when “supplemented with mechanical or electronic control components.” In plants with several refrigeration points, controls can “help the plant to adapt to the varying operational conditions by a process called self-optimization.” In plants with a central refrigeration control system, “This can provide facilities for remote monitoring, alarms, and remote control of the plant.”

For sites with parallel rack systems, the report suggested variable-speed control. “The refrigeration power is matched exactly to the required refrigeration load and the energy consumption.”

Publication date: 11/13/2000

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