The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) has called for the introduction of a Code of Practice for the walk-in cool room and freezer (WICF) sector.
Releasing the findings of a special report, AIRAH has recommended industry training based on the Code of Practice.
The primary objective of the report, which was conducted in partnership with the Expert Group , was to investigate the practices and system design, installation, operation and maintenance issues and barriers that lead to energy waste in the WICF sector.
There are around 260,000 WICFs in Australia with approximately 26 per cent of those in Victoria. About 80 per cent are coolrooms and 20 per cent are freezers.
Potential energy use in WICFs in Australia is 4,800GWh per annum. The average unit energy consumption is around 18,800kWh per annum and the potential energy waste is conservatively more than 25 per cent.
Delving deeper, the study found the existing WICF supply chain is almost completely unregulated with very minimal to no guidance for contractors and end users regarding what constitutes minimum or good practice.
Supplying, installing and maintaining WICFs is complicated and the industry participants are very disconnected, with issues affecting the supply of quality WICF products and services occurring on multiple levels and with significant opportunities for improvement.
The research, which was undertaken from May to July 2018, found there are many market failures and barriers hindering the uptake of higher efficiency equipment, particularly information to contractors and end users.
“Contractors have little incentive to stay informed or promote newe efficient technologies/solutions due to the increased complexity and capital cost of high efficiency equipment and when they are selling to end users primarily interested in least cost equipment,” the report said.
A serious problem identified in the report was direct emissions and leak rates. Cool rooms and freezers typically have the highest leak rates in the economy at 15% per annum and that's in addition to using high Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerations such as HFC-404A, HFC-134a and HCFC-22.
There are several technical standards relevant to WICFs in Australia, however, they don't encompass design, installation, commissioning and maintenance from an energy efficiency perspective.
Current codes are mostly about construction and fire risk mitigation which relates to insurance. The report said that refrigeration technology used in the sector has remained relatively stagnant for the past 20 years with new technological opportunities that can achieve savings of more than 25% only emerging recently.
The last study into the industry was undertaken in 2009 and while equipment and operational issues haven't changed there is more energy saving opportunities since the last review but industry needs to act.
A comprehensive roundup of new energy saving technology is provided in the report. However, it notes that a remote condenser and evaporator installed in “one-on-one” arrangements account for the bulk of current applications.
They typically use conventional hermetic reciprocating compressor technology, without electric commutated (EC) fans, basic controls and electric defrost on a timer.
New and emerging technology options are provided in the report which is available from AIRAH.