Pioneering Sustainable Solutions in Grocery Retail

November 1, 2023

Breaking Ground in Sustainable Energy: Capstone's Milestone Project at Longo Brothers Fruit Markets

Breaking Ground in Sustainable Energy imageIn the heart of the Greater Toronto Area, Longo Brothers Fruit Markets, a family-run grocery retailer, has embarked on a groundbreaking journey toward energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. Recognizing the critical need for reliable power in the grocery industry, especially to prevent food spoilage during power outages, Longo Brothers partnered with Neelands Group Limited and Capstone distributor Vergent Power Solutions to revolutionize their energy strategy.

The Challenge: A Holistic Approach to Energy Efficiency

Operating over 35 grocery stores, Longo Brothers prioritized a comprehensive energy plan that considered both facility power and heating/cooling requirements. With a commitment to high-tech, environmentally friendly practices, the company aimed to implement a highly efficient, reliable power solution that would allow them to reduce energy costs and further their sustainability goals.  A key shift involved transitioning from conventional refrigeration racks to cleaner CO2-based systems, with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1, compared to traditional refrigerants with much higher GWPs.

The Solution: Integrating Microturbine CCHP with CO2 Refrigeration

In collaboration with Neelands Group Limited and Vergent Power Solutions, Longo Brothers implemented North America's first microturbine combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP) system integrated with CO2 refrigeration. This cutting-edge solution provided seamless, ultra-reliable backup power, addressing the unique operational challenges of CO2 systems, especially under varying ambient temperatures and high-pressure conditions.

The project featured a sophisticated CCHP system as the backbone of a power and thermal microgrid. Configured with dual-mode controls for automatic transitions between grid-connected and standalone operations during power interruptions, the system's two C65 microturbines produced electricity produce electricity while the exhaust is channeled to integrated heat recovery modules to provide hot water.  The exhaust is also used by an 80-ton absorption chiller to provide on-site chilled water which complements the CO2 system to ensure its operation in sub-critical mode throughout the year. 

Because different environmental temperatures create different needs, the systems adapt seasonally. During summer months, the CHP hot water output is used by a make-up air unit to provide dehumidification, while the absorption chiller provides chilled water to the CO2 racks to precool the system and improves refrigeration system efficiency. In the winter, however, the CHP hot water is used to provide heating for the building reducing natural gas consumption for heating, while the CO2 refrigeration racks get precooling from cold outside air.



The Results: Transformative Impact on Efficiency and Sustainability

Commissioned in the spring of 2022, the systems will generate over 1 million kWh annually and offset an additional ~250,000 kWh by integrating the absorption chiller. Further, the hot water heat recovery will offset over 1 million kWh of gas-fired heating every year. The efficiency improvements are expected to generate over $130,000 CAD of annual savings and, in concert with the CO2 conversion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,250 tonnes per year. 

While the Ontario power grid has lower carbon intensity than many other jurisdictions in North America due to the prevalence of nuclear and hydro sources, GHG-intensive peaking plants contribute significant GHG pollution at the margins. A well-designed, highly-efficient CHP/CCHP plant, like the one at Longos, can deliver GHG reductions by displacing power otherwise supplied by polluting “peaker” plants. 

Shaping a Greener Future imageShaping a Greener Future

At Capstone Green Energy, we celebrate this milestone achievement with Longo Brothers Fruit Markets, demonstrating the power of innovation in advancing sustainability. Stay tuned for more updates on groundbreaking projects reshaping the landscape of clean and efficient energy solutions!