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Improving Cold storage Equipment in Europe (ICE-E)

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In Europe, there are 60-70 million cubic meters of cold storage for food, using between 30 and 50 kW/m3/year. Refrigeration accounts for about 35% of electrical consumption in the food industry, and poses problems regarding the loss of refrigerants, which have a high global warming potential (the cold chain is responsible for 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions). The potential for energy savings in this sector is around 30-40% (up to 72% as found by the consortium), achievable by optimising usage of the stores, and repairing or retrofitting the current equipment. ICE-E has covered all types of food cold stores from small stores of a few cubic meters to large regional distribution centres and public cold stores or up to 250,000 cubic meters. The main aim of ICE-E was to foster the uptake of new efficient technologies within the cold storage sector, through a combination of knowledge-based information packages, mathematical models and education programmes. The team has thus enabled cold store operators, often unaware of the potential energy savings, to make informed decisions on their equipment and select adapted cost- and energy-efficient solutions.


  • The information on the energy consumption of 329 cold stores was collected and analysed to benchmark the stores and understand the most important factors affecting their use of energy.
  • 28 audits were carried out to draw generic lessons on how to reduce the energy consumption of cold stores.
  • 21 information packs and 15 case studies were generated to provide information to cold store operators on how to improve the performance of equipment.
  • Two mathematical models were developed to allow the identification of energy saving opportunities.
  • Five e-learning modules were developed and used. The consortium has also produced a webinar to present all project outputs (

Lessons learned

  • End users of cold stores often lack independent sources of information and might be suspicious of the claims made by companies elling energy-efficient equipment. The ICE-E consrtium could bring them clear and unbiased advice.
  • The levels of confidentiality varied considerably among cold store operators. Some were extremely secretive while others considered working with the ICE-E project to be prestigious and of benefit for their company.
  • Considerable energy savings can be achieved in European cold stores.

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United Kingdom
Contact point: 
Ms Judith Evans
+44 (0)117 928 9300


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In brief

01/05/2010 to 30/04/2012
Contract number: