Emerson’s ANZ vice president and managing director of commercial & residential solutions, Tim Flinn, outlines strategies and technologies for greater energy efficiency.

Australia’s annual average energy consumption of 9,044 kWh per capita may be dwarfed by Iceland’s 50,613 kWh, but our energy usage continues to rise (by an annual average of 0.7% over the past 10 years).

Our commercial sector accounts for just over five per cent of energy consumption[1] with a focus on lighting, heating and cooling, while for food and grocery, large scale retail refrigeration systems typically account for the majority of energy use – representing the biggest potential for reductions if approached in the right way.

What it means to optimise cost and efficiency is not always straightforward. For widespread commitments to environmental sustainability to have a real impact on industries and communities, we need to see the advancement of strategies and technologies to lower emissions and improve resource efficiency across the board.

Delivering environmentally responsible solutions that can improve efficiency, reduce emissions and conserve resources is possible, and in fact, manufacturing studies have found that top performing facilities spend one-third as much as the industry average on energy costs and have 30 per cent less CO2 emissions.

As regulations evolve, engagement with key stakeholders including industry associations, partners, government, OEMs and chemical companies to determine the best low-GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerant options for HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) applications is becoming an increasingly important step in developing the solutions for organisations to transition to lower-GWP refrigerants.

Taking part in discussions around sustainable refrigeration and developing solutions that are optimised for new global efficiency standards and refrigerant regulations, we regularly assist customers to meet shifting environmental laws that impact the industry’s approach and technologies, while reducing the use of refrigerants that can impact global warming.

A considerable portion of our business is focused on the air conditioning aspect of HVACR, and we’re encouraged by the way environmental impact is beginning to take centre stage – particularly because the transition in refrigeration is further down the path. The introduction of low-GWP refrigerants has given us the opportunity to help a wide range of customers transition to higher efficiency technology.

We’ve also seen big food retailers keen to take advantage of the efficiency benefits of natural refrigerant technologies as part of their move towards becoming carbon-neutral. Many have the capability to take a long-term view and map new technologies, like transcritical CO2 refrigeration, into new store development plans. Even smaller independent retailers are following the big stores as the technology matures.

Woolworths recognises the important role innovations like transcritical CO2 play in unlocking the potential to reduce emissions – like integrating the refrigeration system with air conditioning and heating systems to improve efficiencies. As an extension of our work together, the supermarket is already investigating how a store’s refrigeration waste heat can be best used to heat the store and is discovering some solid energy saving potential.

Whether it’s helping to advance human health and life sciences, food and beverage, comfort and safety or supporting power and energy companies to reduce food waste in landfills, our approach comes from a dedicated Environmental Sustainability Framework.

This is an important framework that engages external stakeholders across research and innovation, industry leadership and policy developments. Only through working in partnership to develop answers that are ready for the real-world, as well as participating in customer initiatives and sharing expertise in a way that can help shape future policy developments, can we make an impact.

[ 1] Source: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (2020) Australian Energy Statistics, Table E

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