Upgrades to Aldi UK stores include fridge doors and natural refrigerants. (Source: Aldi UK)
Upgrades to Aldi UK stores include fridge doors and natural refrigerants. (Source: Aldi UK)

Aldi UK Continues Roll Out of Natural Refrigerants in Existing Stores

More than 30 stores will be upgraded this summer, some of which will get new natural refrigerant-based HVAC&R systems.

Aldi UK, the U.K.’s fifth largest supermarket chain, is continuing to roll out natural refrigerants across its existing stores with a series of upgrades over the summer.

According to a statement from the retailer, 33 stores will undergo refurbishments in June, July and August. Changes will vary at the store level, but a number of these sites will get upgrades to their refrigeration systems, including new natural refrigerant-based technologies to reduce carbon emissions.

NaturalRefrigerants.com has contacted Aldi UK for additional information about the proposed refrigeration system upgrades.

“Finding ways to reduce any environmental impact as we continue to grow our store estate across the country is a vital part of these changes,” said Jonathan Neale, Managing Director of National Real Estate at the supermarket chain.

Other improvements include updating signage and redesigning store layouts to provide more space to shop, Aldi UK said.

Throughout 2024, Aldi UK plans to invest more than £90 million (€106.6 million/ $114.3 million) on store improvements at more than 100 locations.

“Finding ways to reduce any environmental impact as we continue to grow our store estate across the country is a vital part of these changes.”

Jonathan Neale, Aldi UK

NatRef journey

Aldi UK has been installing natural refrigerant-based systems at its new stores since the beginning of 2018, and its goal is to transition completely to natural refrigerants by the end of 2029. In the company’s existing stores, HFC-based equipment is being replaced by CO2 (R744) alternatives as stores are upgraded and when refrigeration equipment reaches its end-of-life, the retailer said in its latest sustainability report.

The retailer is also introducing heat recovery at newer stores, using waste heat from chillers to provide space heating. In new and refurbished stores, Aldi UK is installing doors on its refrigerated display cases, which it said will reduce each store’s energy use by around 20%.

In a LinkedIn post this week, U.K. HVAC&R manufacturer Clade said that it recently designed, manufactured and installed a full CO2 upgrade for an Aldi UK store in Birmingham. The system consisted of a refrigeration pack from Clade, a condenser from Coolers and Condensers, two condensing units from Panasonic and two evaporators from Rivacold.

In May 2023, German HVAC manufacturer Vaillant announced a five-year partnership agreement with Aldi UK to install its air-to-water aroTHERM plus propane (R290) heat pumps in all new store locations. Up to five of the 12kW (3.4TR)-capacity units will be installed at each location depending on store size and will provide both heating and cooling.

Additional industry commitments

Other U.K. retailers are also taking action on natural refrigerants. As of October 2022, the country’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, had installed transcritical CO2 systems at about 1,000 stores, or about one third of its locations, with plans to be HFC-free chain-wide by 2035.

According to Sainsbury’s Sustainability Report 2024, the retailer continues to “remove refrigeration systems using HFCs, replacing them with more efficient fridges using natural refrigerant gas.”

Asda committed to “implementing lower-carbon refrigeration” in its 2022 ESG Report. However, that same year, the retailer installed R410A-based air-conditioning equipment at four of its superstores.

Morrisons has also committed to transition to CO2-based refrigeration, more efficient display cases and heat recovery systems.

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