DUBAI, UAE, 25 February 2020: The increasing price of electricity across Europe has urged stakeholders to reduce operating cost by investing in better quality refrigeration systems, said Adrian Balaoi, CEO, Frigo Consult, a company based in Romania with projects across Europe and the Middle East. The willingness to invest, Balaoi emphasised, is always dependent on how far into the future the stakeholder plans to invest for. For those only concerned with short term operations, Balaoi said, freons are still the refrigerant of choice but that among stakeholders that have a long-term view of their refrigeration systems, there is much enthusiasm surrounding natural refrigerants. “This is the future – not any kind of Freon,” he said.
Balaoi pointed out that in addition to electricity prices, the prices of refrigerants are also driving stakeholders to future-proof their systems. “In 2019, it was stable, but in 2020, for sure the price of refrigerants will rise again, and starting 2021, it will not be allowed anymore to service some Freons,” he said. “For example, Moldova is not part of the European Union, but they have already started to find solutions and improve. Five years ago, if we discuss R-22, there is no problem, but now there is a problem, and they are looking for natural refrigerants.”
In view of the market shift towards natural refrigerants, Balaoi stressed that the role of specialised contractors, consultants and technicians is even more important. “It’s not easy to find specialised technicians,” he said. “In the last five years, there has been a lot of improvement in this sector, with automation and controls to improve the performance of the plant, but you have to know which product to use and how to apply it.”
Balaoi added that cost-centric thinking also influences clients’ choice of consultants and contractors. To invest in an experienced and knowledgeable consultant is a small percentage of the overall budget of food companies and food distribution centres, he said, but doing so could greatly reduce the cost that may come from problems down the line. “By the end of investment, it can have more than 20% increase in client’s profit,” he said. “But I have met a lot of people that make a second investment and need a consultant again. I have had experience where the client gets a design from different contractors and they select the cheapest offer and they come to us after a bad experience. So, I recommend taking into consideration everything, because some contractors can take the project and cut corners to increase profit. Unfortunately, in these cases, the client is not the winner – he loses. He loses time, and time is money, and he loses efficiency.”
Balaoi said that for its part, Frigo Consult has been organising seminars to help technicians in the selection of natural refrigerants, such as ammonia, CO2 and propane, asking suppliers to make technical presentations in a bid to educate the market. He added that the company has also been actively working with local installers in Egypt, as there has been interest in ammonia applications for industrial refrigeration in the country.