In lieu of a traditional trade show and conference, Danfoss hosted its first-ever virtual event — Cooling United Live, which took place October 7-8, 2020. The virtual conference offered a variety of learning tracks, which included air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, food retail, and industrial refrigeration. For each track, attendees from around the world could choose to attend numerous panel discussions, live demonstrations, and small chatroom sessions from the convenience of their home or office.
“As we’re all adapting to a new way of life, we are eager to reconnect with our customers and all fellow cooling professionals in a new and engaging way,” said Stephane Nassau, senior vice president of global sales at Danfoss. “That was our main purpose behind Cooling United Live – to provide an environment that fosters professional development and relationships in our new, sometimes disconnected, environment.”
The theme pervading the Danfoss event were the megatrends that are currently shaping the HVACR industry. In a session entitled, Present and Future of HVAC systems: The Danfoss Vision, Luigi Zamana, senior marketing director of air conditioning at Danfoss, noted that there are five megatrends that are affecting the industry: climate change, electrification, urbanization, digitalization, and food supply.
“The most important megatrend of all is clearly climate change,” he said. “We need to consider that the cooling sector already accounts for about 8% of the global greenhouse gas emission. With low-GWP, energy balance, and energy-efficient solutions, it has been calculated that we can deliver more than 0.3 degree of reduction out of the 2 degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Electrification is also an important trend and driver, said Zamana, as HVAC and refrigeration already account for about 70% of the world's electricity consumption. This will grow even more due to urbanization and the use of electric heat pumps, which are replacing oil and gas heating systems.
“Fundamental again, is the use of low-GWP solutions, highly efficient and well balanced systems, along with the decarbonization of the sector, with smart integration of renewable energy sources,” he said. “Urbanization is another important trend. It is expected that in 10 years, an additional 1.5 billion people will be living in cities, which will require even more electricity to power air conditioning and heating systems. In particular, now with COVID-19, there is an additional strong and important focus on indoor air quality and safety.”
Digitalization is also important, as it shapes many aspects of our life, especially lately, and it also impacts the HVAC industry, said Zamana.
“Let's just consider that the global internet traffic surged by about 40% in the period between February and April, during the height of the COVID-19 crisis,” he said. “This growth comes on top of the rising demand for digital services over the past decade, which is about 30% year over year. All of this doesn't come for free — 2% of the global electricity consumption is already used by data centers. Data centers need cooling, and it is important to support and develop efficient and environmentally friendly cooling technologies.”
Danfoss has identified four levels that are influenced by the megatrends. The first is the supply side, which is typically the energy utilities, the second is the demand side, which is the end user, the third is the equipment or OEMs, and the fourth is the component manufacturers, such as Danfoss.
“The reduction of climate change and electrification go along one another,” said Zamana. “What the industry can do to reduce the impact of climate change is to push toward good electrification with the decarbonization of the electricity supply sector, smart integration of renewable energy sources, efficiency programs, and sector coupling. This is the way to go.”
To get there, he noted that investments will have to be made in terms of resiliency of the grid, as renewable sources are not always available. To that end, he said grid-level storage like large-scale energy storage and large batteries are needed.
“A new way of charging will also be required for the utilized energy, no longer looking at the peak demand, but also at the viability of the renewable supply with real-time dynamic pricing,” said Zamana. “We are ideally looking at the distributed demand-driven grid, with real-time efficiency measurements, demand-side flexibility, as well as on-site power storage and power generation. All of this will increase the use of heat pumps, smart electronics, and control solutions for the energy balance of the full installation of the micro grid.”
To achieve these goals, Zamana said that HVAC equipment needs to be designed in such a way as to keep these needs in mind going forward.
“Low-GWP refrigerants, variable-speed smart control solutions, simultaneous production of heating and cooling, and high efficiency need to be developed in a much more integrated way,” he said. “Danfoss has developed a clear product and solution roadmap in this direction.”
Regarding some of these products on the air conditioning side, Laure Durrbach, marketing communication manager of air conditioning at Danfoss noted that the company has new solutions in scroll chillers, rooftops and air handling units, CRAC units, heat pumps, oil-free chillers, and oil-free heat pumps.
As far as commercial refrigeration is concerned, Silvana Michelizzi, marketing communications manager of commercial refrigeration at Danfoss, said that the company offers ultra-low GWP condensing units, semi-plugins that use R-290, and end-to-end solutions in food service and food and beverage.
All of these products and solutions were detailed in various breakout sessions and live demonstrations during the Cooling United Live event.