The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) is launching a new pilot programme to offset the upfront costs of natural refrigerant technologies.

Traditional refrigerants contain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), extremely potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) that trap thousands of times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2), and have been named the fastest-growing source of GHG emissions globally.

Commercial refrigeration systems, such as those in supermarkets and grocery stores, are the leading contributor to HFC emissions, releasing over 130 million pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions annually in the US alone.

Natural refrigerants - including ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons - are the most climate-friendly solution, but their adoption in the US has been stalled due in large part to cost barriers.

“High upfront cost is the primary hurdle preventing the adoption of environmentally friendly natural refrigerants,” said Danielle Wright, Executive Director at the NASRC.

“Funding support is key to bridging the gap and stimulating the economies of scale necessary to bring costs down.”

New refrigerant regulations proposed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are driving a growing number of food retailers to consider natural refrigerants, making California an ideal location for the pilot of NASRC’s Aggregated Incentives Program. 

CARB has established an F-gas Reduction Incentive Programme for climate-friendly refrigerants, but the allocated budget will only support a few natural refrigerant projects. AIP is designed to bridge the funding gap with outside funding sources to maximise the number of natural refrigerant projects.

“Our goal is to secure enough funding to make these projects possible while simplifying the experience for the retailers,” Wright continued.

“We also expect the pilot to generate a tremendous amount of data that will contribute to industry knowledge about naturals, further promoting their growth.”