The company’s district cooling expansion project uses sea water and absorption cooling technology to pump cold water underground to offices and commercial buildings, replacing individual chillers with cooling from a single source. Fewer chillers mean less hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas and short-lived climate pollutant, and lower power consumption and less carbon dioxide (CO2).
Helsingborg’s district cooling eliminates 1,173 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions annually, of which energy efficiency accounts for 92%.
The city's initiative began 44 years ago when it started to replace fossil fuels with residual heat from local industry. Today its carbon footprint from heating is one of the lowest in Europe and, with its district cooling expansion project, it aims to reduce the footprint from cooling as well.
Helsingborg’s district cooling expansion project is a very good example of a solution to phase down HFCs and increase energy efficiency on a city-wide scale. District cooling in general is a powerful tool to phase-down HFCs because:
- City or district wide centralization reduces refrigerant charge even if conventional cooling technology is used to produce district cooling
- The large-scale nature of district cooling allows the use of otherwise unavailable energy sources and minimizes the need for chillers of any kind
- The use of natural refrigerants is highly feasible in central district cooling production because flammable and hazardous substances can be effectively managed and controlled
Moving to district cooling can also help countries meet their commitments to the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol. Under the amendment countries have committed to drastically cut the production and consumption of HFCs. The amendment also calls for increased focus on energy efficiency to further reduce the increase in global warming.
The EU Energy Efficiency Directive states that district cooling has significant potential for saving primary energy. Such focus on energy efficiency makes a lot of sense since the vast majority of the global warming impact from air conditioning and refrigeration is due to indirect emissions related to energy use.
Öresundskraft Kraft and Varme AB’s Helsingborg project shows that there are innovative and technological alternatives to HFCs, and that these technologies can be replicated in other places.