In the current environment of extreme technological connectivity, energy savings, and environmental concerns, the energy challenges in industrial refrigeration are more complex than ever. Energy efficiency and environmental safety are now fundamental pillars for the design and operation of refrigeration systems in various industries around the world. But to these, we must add other critical factors such as constant technological innovation and professional training in the sector. Join us in exploring these challenges and the solutions that are being considered.
Efficiency, the first of the energy challenges in industrial refrigeration
Truth be told, energy efficiency is perhaps the primary challenge in the industrial refrigeration sector. Within the framework of the European initiative Cool-Save, the significant impact of refrigeration systems on global energy consumption became evident. In fact, it is estimated that between 15% and 20% of this consumption is related to air conditioning and refrigeration. Delving into the realm of cold storage warehouses, the Improving Cold Storage Equipment in Europe report warns that between 60% and 70% of the electrical energy used in these facilities is dedicated to refrigeration.
But that’s not all. Other data supports the priority of efficiency among the energy challenges in industrial refrigeration. Specifically, the German Association of Cold Storage Warehouses (VDKL) revealed that the installation of industrial cold systems accounts for approximately two-thirds of the energy consumption of cold storage warehouses and 25% of the total expenditure of companies using these systems. This reality has led the European Union to focus its efforts on the 2030 Agenda, aiming to achieve an increase in energy efficiency of over 30% in Member States.
And what about Spain?
In the context of the Spanish economy, a peculiar nuance is added to this challenge. The critical importance of the food industry – which largely demands refrigeration systems – significantly influences total energy consumption. Similarly, Spain’s climate and geography also impact energy consumption patterns in various industrial sectors. As we move towards a more sustainable future, a focus on energy efficiency becomes essential to ensure both competitiveness and the reduction of environmental footprint.
In this regard, a detailed analysis of energy consumption is centrally important in industrial refrigeration projects. Efficient system designs depend not only on advanced technologies but also on audits and maintenance operations that optimize energy and economic performance. With increasing pressure to mitigate climate change, improvement in maintenance and modernization processes emerges as a key strategy to achieve energy and environmental goals.
Safety and the environment, another implicit energy challenge in industrial refrigeration
Certainly, safety and the environment are two closely linked aspects in industrial refrigeration, particularly regarding the refrigerants used in systems. In this sense, the detection and prevention of refrigerant leaks and the minimization of flammability risks have become essential in the design and operation of safe systems.
The adoption of natural refrigerants, such as CO2 and ammonia, stands out as an effective response to environmental challenges. These sustainable refrigerants have significant benefits: they have a low global warming potential and zero potential for ozone layer depletion. This feature positions them as highly desirable alternatives compared to conventional refrigerants with high environmental impact.
On the other hand, integrating safety measures in the detection and prevention of refrigerant leaks is crucial to safeguard both workers and the environment. To ensure safety and risk minimization, two factors are now essential:
- Rigorous procedures during the installation and operation of refrigeration systems.
- The incorporation of advanced monitoring technologies.
Technological innovation, an effective way to address energy challenges in industrial refrigeration
Of course, technological innovation has become an essential driver for the evolution of industrial refrigeration. Tackling energy challenges requires the development of advanced solutions that optimize efficiency and reduce environmental impact. From refrigeration systems with lower energy consumption to the incorporation of renewable energy sources, innovation is transforming how we conceive and apply industrial refrigeration.
An example of this innovation is the application of variable compressors and intelligent controllers. These systems allow adjusting cooling capacity according to changing needs, thereby reducing energy waste during low-demand periods. As mentioned earlier, the adoption of natural refrigerants is also part of this innovation by providing more sustainable alternatives with lower environmental impact.
Moreover, the interconnection of systems, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), is opening new possibilities for monitoring and remote control of refrigeration systems. Connected sensors and devices collect real-time data, allowing early detection of issues and performance optimization. Likewise, this connectivity enables the implementation of predictive maintenance strategies, reducing downtime and improving operational efficiency. Ultimately, increasing investment and actions in R&D pose one of the most challenging energy challenges in industrial refrigeration for companies.
Specialized professional training, an unavoidable challenge
As technology advances and refrigeration systems become more complex, there is an urgent need for specialized training. Indeed, professionals in industrial refrigeration must acquire updated skills and in-depth knowledge to effectively address contemporary challenges. Training not only translates to better operational performance but also influences the ability to proactively address problems and identify improvement opportunities.
Training programs should cover a wide range of topics, from the latest technologies and design techniques to practical aspects of safety and regulatory compliance. This includes training in refrigerant handling, leak management, and maintenance of safe and efficient systems. Furthermore, training must also adapt to the constant evolution of environmental standards and regulations. This ensures that professionals are aware of current and future requirements to address energy challenges in industrial refrigeration.
For all of this, collaboration between educational institutions, companies, and regulatory bodies is essential to develop high-quality training programs. Blended learning practices, which incorporate both theory and hands-on experience, are especially beneficial in this field. Certification and continuous training programs can also ensure that professionals keep their knowledge up-to-date throughout their careers.
At Intersam, we understand and effectively address these challenges
Since 1995, at Intersam, we have committed ourselves to designing and developing more efficient and environmentally friendly industrial and commercial refrigeration and air conditioning systems. Consequently, our most demanded products, such as adiabatic air coolers and evaporative air-cooling refrigeration units, are capable of controlling water consumption at 100%. Additionally, they feature a low-energy consumption ventilation system, ensuring operational cost reduction and minimal environmental impact.
Not content with this, we continue to allocate resources and take actions to create innovative systems and units that match or exceed changing efficiency standards. Similarly, we have a team of experienced engineers and installers who constantly update their knowledge and skills. Thanks to all this, we have achieved solidity and prestige in the sector, both within and outside of Spain.
Interested in installing refrigeration and air conditioning infrastructures tailored to your company? Keep in mind that Intersam is capable of addressing current energy challenges in industrial refrigeration.