Cool rooms
Public Comment

Walk-in coolroom study highlights sector failings

AIRAH has released the findings and recommendations from the industry consultation into the walk-in coolroom and freezer (WICF) sector.

The primary objective of the project – conducted in partnership with The Expert Group – was to investigate the practices and system design, installation, operation and maintenance issues and barriers that lead to energy waste in the walk-in cool-room and walk-in freezer (WICF) sector.

There are around 260,000 WICFs in Australia with approximately 26 per cent of those in Victoria. Approximately 80 per cent are coolrooms and 20 per cent are freezers.

Potential energy use in WICFs in Australia is 4,800GWh per annum with around 1,250GWh consumed in Victoria. The average unit energy consumption is around 18,800kWh per annum and the potential energy waste is conservatively more than 25 per cent.

Delving deeper, the study found the existing WICF supply chain is almost completely unregulated with very minimal to no guidance for contractors and end users regarding what constitutes minimum or good practice. Supplying, installing and maintaining WICFs is complicated and the industry participants are very disconnected, with issues affecting the supply of quality WICF products and services occurring on multiple levels and with significant opportunities for improvement.

AIRAH’s Executive Manager – Government Relations and Technical Services, Phil Wilkinson, F.AIRAH, says, “We had a great level of review and input (over 80 contributors) and uncovered a lot of useful information.”

Wilkinson believes there are many market failures and barriers hindering the uptake of higher efficiency equipment and contributing to energy waste, in particular information failure, split incentives and least cost purchasing by small to medium enterprises, in part driven by information failure.

“Contractors have little incentive to stay informed or promote new efficient technologies/solutions due to the increased complexity and capital cost of high efficiency equipment and when they are selling to end users primarily interested in least cost equipment,” he says.

“The next step is to apply for funding towards an Australian Best Practice Guide for WICF and a rating framework.”

The report is available to download here, and the original discussion paper can be viewed here.

One Reply to “Walk-in coolroom study highlights sector failings

  1. Thanks for high-lightening this important issue. I note however that there is little mention of the education and training that technicians receive at TAFE. It is about time that principals of energy efficiency, design, servicing and instillation are introduced into curriculum, not just for cool room and freezer rooms but for all aspects of the trade. Energy efficiencies in RAC are the ‘low hanging fruit’ of the Kigali amendment providing a win-win for consumers and the environment. Identifying energy efficiencies in the trade should be a core skill, not an elective or graduate certificate qualification. As demonstrated in the article energy efficiencies are able to be gained well after the design phase, during construction, maintaining and servicing of equipment. Technicians need to be able to quantify energy gains made due to their servicing practices and contractors need to be able to demonstrate differences in design choices.

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