First ever North American natural refrigerant survey
08 March 2012
R744.com: Congratulations on the launch of "The GUIDE 2012 - Natural Refrigerants - Market Growth for Europe"! Can you tell us a how the concept began and what were the goals when launching this publication?
Ms Masson: Over the last years we realised that market data about natural refrigerants was largely missing. We often received questions about market trends and drivers for HFC-free solutions.. We decided to ask the industry what their expectations were for ammonia, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon refrigerants; we looked at the policy side of things; and we added our own knowledge to draft a GUIDE which can be used as a reference guide to the market for natural refrigerants. We made it freely available to address the most important barrier identified: the need to educate the market and provide information on the present and future availability of HFC-free technology solutions.
R744.com: What has been the feedback to the launch of this publication so far?
Ms Masson: We have received very positive feedback, indeed. Industry experts have told us that they value the work put into this publication and that they were using the GUIDE as a basis for presentation towards their partners and customers. Just as a reference, only the online reader version of the European GUIDE – excluding the direct downloads – attracted 6000+ different individual readers with more than 83000+ page views.
R744.com: What makes the GUIDE so unique?
Ms Masson: I would say its simplicity and user-friendliness. We put an emphasis on visualising today’s and tomorrow’s markets. The European GUIDE and future editions are not meant to compete with scientific papers. They are rather a complementary element to better understand market drivers and forecasts. The unique element about the GUIDEs is that they specifically focus on natural refrigerants – and for the first time try to outline challenges and opportunities. This will help industry and policy to use it as a reference document.
R744.com: How do you think the natural refrigerant market has evolved in the last decade? What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the sector over the next 12 months?
Ms Masson: For some applications and world regions the markets for HFC-free solutions have been developing well, such as CO2 heat pumps in Japan and supermarkets in Europe, NH3 industrial refrigeration or HC refrigeration by beverage & food companies. Over the coming months I estimate the European market to continue following the R744 trend in the commercial refrigeration sector and I look forward to seeing how the market for CO2 domestic hot water heating evolves. The challenges remain training and awareness. There are still low familiarity levels among industry and its customers and the lack of appropriate training on the safe and energy-efficient handling of NR systems is a major setback.
R744.com: What do you see as the biggest benefit to supporters of the "GUIDE" series?
Ms Masson: There are opportunities for companies active in the field of HFC-free cooling, refrigeration and heating to present a real-life case study or showcase their product and service solutions on a dedicated page. Being an official supporter of the GUIDEs has a threefold advantage:
1. The publication will be available for free, so there are no barriers to reach the widest-possible readership.
2. Organisations involved can draw attention to their available technology and services solutions
but also outline challenges where support by industry partners and policy is needed.
3. Last but not least the GUIDE can easily be used for internal and external communication, to inform own personnel, shareholders or use it for presentations to customers.
R744.com: What are your plans regarding future editions of the "GUIDEs" over the next 12 months?
Ms Masson: The next edition we will launch in autumn, and will focus on the North American market, including Canada, Mexico and the USA. We are also working on GUIDEs on the Asian market and on an update of the European edition in the field of commercial and light-commercial refrigeration. Here we are in early planning stages, so we welcome any ideas by the HVAC&R industry, or other stakeholders.
R744.com: Who is the target audience of your recently launched North American natural refrigerant survey? What are the benefits of taking part?
Ms Masson: For the North American GUIDE we launched an online survey a short while ago that is open to any organisation with operations in Canada, Mexico or the US. So far, the survey has received 250+ responses. Benefits of pariticpating include a better understanding of the market as the more responses we receive the better industry can evaluate what the HVAC&R industry and its customers think about natural refrigerants’ prospects. Filling in the survey takes around 10-15 minutes but is worth the effort.
The survey can be found on: http://guide.shecco.com
The survey can be found on: http://guide.shecco.com
R744.com: Can you already share with us some initial results on the North American market? Do these differ significantly from the results presented in the European GUIDE?
Ms Masson: It is too early to tell right now as the data collection is on-going and we only want to make a comparison towards the end of this process. The survey for the North American is more specific in addressing barriers mostly found in Canada, Mexico and the USA.
However, what I can say is that responses received so far that indiicate participants are on average most familiar with CO2 as a refrigerant. This is somewhat surprising given the high market penetration rate of ammonia in the USA where around 90% of the market use NH3 industrial refrigeration. Even hydrocarbons, only in the very early stages of market adoption, already feature an elevated level of familiarity among respondents.
Another interesting result is that respondents will mostly introduce new products / services for CO2 refrigerant in 2012, followed by hydrocarbons and ammonia.