Complying with the new energy efficiency standards of the European Union, helping to face high energy costs, and maintaining the stability of the industry will continue to be part of the challenges of the refrigeration sector in Spain. As we will see below, this segment of the national economy is proving to be up-to-date with the innovations that are emerging in its market. It also shows that it continues to grow despite coming out of the recession caused by COVID-19. In addition, it continues to be one of the areas with the greatest job stability and one that best values specialized human talent.

Energy efficiency in the focus of the refrigeration sector

Indeed, energy efficiency became more relevant with the publication, on March 1, 2022, of the European Ecodesign Regulation 2019/2024 and the European Energy Labeling Regulation 2019/2018. For this reason, manufacturers of refrigeration equipment and refrigeration systems, in general, continue to focus on the development of equipment that provides high performance with increasingly low energy consumption. Therefore, this new regulation did not take the refrigeration sector in Spain by surprise, since many of its companies have been working for several years on the concept, design, and production of energy-efficient products and whose operation is friendly. with the environment.

Undoubtedly, this is a key factor throughout the cold chain for a large number of products. In particular, refrigerated cabinets are, due to their quantity, the most important receptors in the refrigeration installations of supermarkets, butcher shops, and other establishments. Therefore, it is critical that its operation be efficient because the energy efficiency of the entire complex will depend a lot on this. In this sense, in companies like Intersam we are focused on the implementation of technologies such as fans and electronic valves; as well as, in the incorporation of doors to close or limit the opening of furniture and refrigerated environments and led lighting.

These and other improvements are being implemented in refrigeration cycles, along with the introduction of new refrigerants with low global warming potential. All of the above aims to reduce energy consumption.

The new European regulation in a nutshell

In a few words, the aforementioned new regulation establishes and determines the requirements for ecological design and energy labeling for refrigeration equipment and systems whose purpose is the direct sale and that operate connected to the electrical network. This category includes refrigerated cabinets for supermarkets, beverage refrigerators, ice cream display cabinets, and chests for the preservation and sale of ice cream. Likewise, refrigerated vending machines are included.

The reduction in energy consumption achieved by these systems and furniture seeks to help meet the EU emission reduction targets. In parallel, this new generation of equipment and systems includes instructions for its disassembly and recycling, once its useful life has ended, which in turn reduces contamination.

Putting the aforementioned initiatives into practice, it is estimated that energy savings in the EU will reach 48 TWh in 2030. On the other hand, the aforementioned regulations also contemplate the implementation of market surveillance procedures that will be carried out by the administrations of each state. member.

With a view to the entry into force of the European regulations, tests are still being carried out with the European Product Registration for Energy Labeling (EPREL). It will compile all the information that the aforementioned regulations will establish for this class of systems and which is still in the adjustment phase. Perhaps the most difficult challenge lies in a large number of models, variants, and ranges in which such equipment is built. These must be clearly defined since this database will include all the equipment that will work in the EU.

Alleviate high energy costs, another challenge for the refrigeration sector

Certainly, the refrigeration market is one of the most affected by the large increase in energy prices experienced by Europe. A situation that we have been experiencing since the summer of 2021 and that is becoming more complex due to the war between Russia and Ukraine. In particular, this scenario drives an increase in the operating costs of refrigeration facilities in the order of 220%. In other words, the current refrigeration production requirements in the agri-food, pharmaceutical, logistics and HORECA sectors are generating a loss of competitiveness and cost increases that will end up affecting the final consumer.

In this regard, a current challenge for the refrigeration sector is to supply its customers with effective solutions that save energy, but without altering the cold and value chains that are so vital to maintaining product quality.

New technologies to reduce consumption

According to the Spanish Association of Cold and its Technologies (AEFYT), a 1,500 m² supermarket consumes an average of 1,000 MWh/year. For its part, the consumption of a refrigeration plant represents between 39 and 60% of the total of the premises, depending on the technology used.

In general, it is estimated that food preservation alone spends 15% of the electricity generated in the world. This is without considering other products and services that require controlled temperatures to maintain their properties and operation. As is the case with thermolabile medicines, plasma, vaccines, flowers, and data processing centers, among others.

In Europe, cold rooms consume around 30TW per year. Which we add a constant demographic growth that will increase the demand for more refrigeration facilities to guarantee the quality and conservation of various products.

For all these reasons, at companies like Intersam, we continue to work on the digitization of our products and introduce new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence in our systems. With them, it is not only feasible to reduce energy consumption but also to carry out monitoring and self-diagnosis of refrigeration installations.

Maintaining stability is an achievement and a challenge for the refrigeration sector

Paradoxically, refrigeration and air conditioning are among the economic sectors least affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the magnitude of the global cold storage market reached a value of 119.98 billion dollars in 2021. And the outlook points to an increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4% from 2022 to 2030. In other words, it will reach a value of 128.61 billion at the end of this decade, which will boost employability in this segment. The cause of this increase is the strict regulations that govern the production and supply of products that require a rigorous cold chain.

Currently, according to the AEFYT, the refrigeration industry contributes an added value of 40% to the Spanish GDP and employs 22,000 people. Apart from this, in Spain, there are more than 5,000 companies dedicated to the installation of refrigeration systems and close to 200 between manufacturers, marketers, and consultants.

Recently, the Agreement of the Industrial Refrigeration Industries Sector was signed, which improves the working conditions of 14,000 employees. The agreement includes a salary increase of up to 2.25%. Consequently, this pact will further promote employment in the refrigeration sector in the country.

Intersam is one of the leaders in the refrigeration sector

At Intersam we have been dedicating ourselves for more than 27 years to the design and development of custom-made refrigeration and air conditioning systems for industry and commerce. We closely follow the evolution of the national and world market to adapt to the new demands. For this reason, our products and projects have the most advanced applied technology. With all this, we guarantee greater efficiency and energy savings.

Contact us and tell us the requirements of your company. We are a leading organization in the refrigeration industry with an international presence!