Energy saving

Industrial cooling systems

Due to European legislation on the phasing out of synthetic refrigerants, many companies are required to upgrade or replace their system(s). In sectors such as (frozen) food, an industrial refrigeration system is one of the largest energy consumers within a company. This is hardly surprising, as most refrigeration systems work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result, there is usually a great deal of potential for optimising the existing cooling system.

The choice of refrigerant is complex and depends on the design of the new cooling system. There are therefore major differences in the investment and operating costs of a new refrigeration installation.

Encon monitors the retrofitting or replacement of industrial refrigeration equipment and has extensive expertise in consultancy, engineering and project management for industrial refrigeration. Our experience in this field is based on the screening of more than 100 Dutch cold storage warehouses in the context of their energy saving efforts. In recent years, we have also implemented various industrial cooling systems in the food sector at companies such as Ter Beke, Pauwels Sauzen and Greenyard involving an investment cost of € 750,000 to € 5,000,000.


Refrigerants constitute the fuel of a refrigeration system. In such a system, a refrigerant is constantly circulating and being evaporated, compressed, condensed and cooled. This refrigerant ensures the transfer of heat by absorbing this heat through evaporation at a normal ambient temperature and releasing it through condensation above the ambient temperature. The choice of refrigerant has a major impact on the operation and engineering costs and, of course, on the energy consumption of a refrigeration system.

On 20 May 2014, the EU published the new F-gas Regulation, which entered into force in all Member States on 1 January 2015.
The aim in this case is to reduce the use of F-gases in Europe, because these chemicals contribute significantly to the production of greenhouse gases in the event of leakage. This Regulation includes a ban on the use of all synthetic refrigerants for certain applications, a ban on maintenance in the long term, market quotas with a phase-out scenario for each year, and certain conditions for persons and companies involved in refrigeration operations. The F-gas Regulation also includes a phase-out scenario for the marketing of HFCs. From 2018 onwards, only 63% of the quantity will be allowed to be imported (or produced) compared to 2015. This will lead to an increase in the price of the synthetic refrigerants that are available on the market.

The ideal refrigerant

Let's be clear: there is no such thing as an ideal refrigerant. Given the European legislation on refrigerants, it is not easy to make the right choice with regard to the refrigerant for your industrial refrigeration equipment. When it comes to refrigerants, a distinction is made between natural and synthetic refrigerants.

Natural refrigerants are a natural part of our environment and are therefore less harmful to it. Examples of frequently used natural refrigerants are CO2 (R744), NH3 (ammonia - R717) and propane (R290).

Synthetic refrigerants are substances that are not naturally present in our environment, but have been developed by mankind for industrial purposes. Synthetic refrigerants include (H)CFCs and HFCs. These are governed by immediately binding European regulations aimed at protecting the environment.

Please click here to find out more about refrigerants.

Why work with Encon?

As a result of its many years of experience, Encon has developed a specific plan of action for the retrofitting or replacement of industrial refrigeration systems:

  • Step 1: budgeting + assessment of savings potential
  • Step 2: design + choice of refrigerant
  • Step 3: engineering of the selected project + preparation of scope statement
  • Step 4: tendering by installers + price comparison
  • Step 5: site follow-up until commissioning

As a result of its many years of experience in optimising refrigeration systems, Encon has developed a step-by-step plan to optimise existing refrigeration systems, such as ammonia heat pump systems, CO2 systems or conventional refrigeration systems. Encon not only focuses on energy and maintenance savings, but also on convenience and the required temperatures in relation to the outdoor climate.

Step 1: Estimating the savings potential and budgeting

The first step in our plan for saving energy or optimising convenience is to analyse the existing system. In order to find potential energy savings, Encon will pay you a visit and perform a free scan of the savings potential. If you subsequently receive a quotation from us, this not only means that savings are possible, but also that they will be large enough to pay for the investment thanks to the quick cost savings.

Due to Encon's many years of experience in project engineering, we have developed extensive expertise in drawing up a realistic budget for your new refrigeration system. We know from experience that a budget is very difficult to estimate at the beginning of a project, but it is essential when choosing the right technology. A budget can be calculated for an installation costing € 500,000 up to € 5,000,000.

Step 2: Maximum cost savings through concept comparison

Whether it involves a new construction project or a renovation project, there are always several solutions for cooling buildings. During a concept study, we will compare various refrigerants in relation to the corresponding installation. For example, reciprocating compressors are compared with screw compressors, but ammonia heat pump systems are also compared with CO2 transcritical installations and/or a conventional freone-based cooling installation. We will not only compare the investment costs but also the operating costs. Given the different applications, investment costs and operating costs may differ by more than 50%. In other words, the added value of a concept study is usually very high. Moreover, in view of the exchange of heat and cold, there is also a constant focus on heat recovery. Every system has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the application. Each system also has a different investment cost, savings potential and corresponding convenience level, depending on the application. For this reason, a concept analysis will be developed in which various solutions are compared, so you can make the right choice for the operation of your refrigeration system.

You can find an example of a report on refrigerants here.

Step 3: Designing the ideal, customised system - Engineering

A design study begins by calculating the cooling load. During the design study phase, the installation will be dimensioned and drawn on the existing technical plans. This will provide the customer with a clear picture of the impact of the new refrigeration system. All parameters will then be mapped to ensure that the new installation functions properly.

Based on previous projects and our extensive knowledge of the market, we will be able to make a first realistic estimate of the required budget as early as the design phase. This will be done without any obligation on your part a few days after you have sent us your design. If, as a result, your plans are beginning to take shape, you can call upon Encon not only to customise your solution and select the most suitable supplier, but also to closely monitor the implementation of your project. During the engineering phase, all possible imprecisions will be dealt with and the budget that will serve as the basis for the measurement statements during the tendering procedure will be accurately calculated.

Step 4: A good scope statement and a correct comparison of tenders

Being an independent party, Encon not only designs installations, but can also monitor both the tendering procedure and the final installation. A scope statement will be drafted based on the selected concept. After tendering, a comparative study will be made of the investment costs, operating costs, maintenance costs and the technical set-up of the installation. This allows us to create reliable models to predict the final cost of the various options. The scope statement also specifies the main preconditions. Subsequently, the tenders submitted by the various suppliers will be compared in detail. For each aspect, Encon will check whether the tender meets the requirements of the scope statement and prices will be compared. In a second phase, the three best tenderers will have the opportunity to improve their tenders in those areas where they did not score as well as the competition. At the end of this procedure, a final candidate will be selected.

Step 5: Installation follow-up: what you pay is what you get

Once the contract has been awarded, the project managers can also monitor the implementation of the project for you. This will result in less stress for the customer, but, most of all, it offers you the assurance that the work will be carried out according to the scope statement.

This type of monitoring ensures that you get what you are paying for: a reliable high-quality installation that will yield at least the savings that have been calculated.

5 reasons for calling upon Encon

A new refrigeration system can be bought directly from an installer or a manufacturer. It would seem cheaper to go for this option rather than to hire a consultancy firm. Yet, there are five reasons why relying on Encon is certain to be more profitable.

1. Preparing a realistic budget along with a conceptual analysis allows you to have a helicopter view of all the solutions, while striking a balance between purchase costs, energy consumption, convenience and maintenance. The installations drawn up by Encon generally have a Total Cost of Ownership that is at least 30% higher due to the analysis of the available solutions.

2. The correct dimensioning of the refrigeration system is of decisive importance for the investment cost. Encon ensures a correct dimensioning of the refrigeration compressors and evaporators.

3. The new installation is reliable and guaranteed to deliver the expected savings. This guarantee is based on the scope statement drafted for you by Encon, on a price comparison and on the negotiations conducted by our experts with the suppliers who submitted the best tenders. On average, Encon saves 7-12 % through the use of tendering.

4. The combination of independent comparison and Encon's experience with refrigeration systems ensures that you will recoup the money you spend on us many times over. The peace of mind of having chosen the right supplier and the right solution so you do not need to worry about the installation is also a valuable advantage. The application of this procedure also reduces both time and risk.

5. Knowledge of European and local legislation. European legislation has a significant impact on the use of chemical refrigerants. The availability of common synthetic refrigerants such as R410 and R404 will be drastically reduced by this legislation. Encon therefore takes into account the future availability of these refrigerants and the expected lifespan of your installation when choosing the concept.