Supermarkets are sizeable establishments that use up a lot of energy. Europe is home to roughly one million of these stores, which account for approximately 4% of its electricity consumption. The bulk of that power (30 to 60%) is consumed by cooling systems.
In an effort to make supermarkets more efficient and overcome the difficulties preventing efficiency measures from being taken, the European Commission is funding the SuperSmart project, involving 9 institutions from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Norway, Sweden and Spain. The EUREC member CIRCE is taking part in this project, and will take care of training technicians and managers to learn about and apply the most suitable energy efficiency measures in their establishments.
Various actions have been defined to make supermarkets more sustainable and boost the sector's growth, which includes implementing a European ecolabel to recognise the "greenest” supermarkets. The ecolabel will encourage supermarkets to apply more efficient and environmentally friendly technology so as to ultimately lessen the impact of their business on the surroundings. In doing so, they will also manage to boost their financial profit and boost the value of their products in the eyes of their customers, helping them to stand out from the competition.
Applying the improvements and measures proposed by SuperSmart will earn them estimated savings of 500 GWh/year during the project's three-year life span. Once it ends, savings are expected to grow as the measures are exported to other establishments across Europe.
In order to then spread the project's findings, SuperSmart will be approaching food stores to introduce tested technological improvements and boost their competitiveness. The guidelines they are given will also help supermarkets to comply with Europe's environmental regulations and goals.
The aim is for supermarket decision-makers, including technical and non-technical staff, to be better informed thanks to informative campaigns and specific training. The project will develop training material and organise workshops, conferences and awareness activities to involve the sector's experts. It is estimated that over 2,500 professionals from all around Europe will receive training.
The SuperSmart project will be supported by the Association of Spanish Supermarket Chains (ACES). This association represents the project's end users and has shown an interest in monitoring the project's progress, sharing existing best practices and helping to develop the criteria for Europe's new ecolabel. Meanwhile, CIRCE will be building synergies with ACES to discover what supermarkets currently need and offer them specific training programmes, as well as defining solutions to enhance their energy processes.