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A retailer in motion


Colruyt Group opens first fossil-fuel-free OKay store

Monday, September 11, 2017

On 13 September, Colruyt Group will open the first OKay store that will not use natural gas or oil. The store does not have a boiler. OKay Stavelot recovers residual heat from its cooling system to heat the store area. The electricity comes from Eoly, Colruyt Group's renewable energy producer. The store in Stavelot will thus emit 99% less CO2 for heating than a traditional store with boiler.

Heat recovery in two test stores

Colruyt Group tests this heat recovery in two brand-new local OKay supermarkets: the establishment in Stavelot that opens Wednesday and a second store in Viroinval that will open later this year. Both buildings have been especially insulated to heat the complete store with the residual heat from the cooling system. They are equipped with propane cooling. Natural refrigerant propane is environment-friendlier than chemical cooling gasses.

Ian Vinck, project engineer at Colruyt Group's technical department, explains: "The residual heat from a cooling system is usually released into the open air. But our renewable propane cooling is particularly suitable for residual heat recovery: we recover the heat and use it to heat the store." Colruyt Group will first test heat recovery for a year to be sure the system will do in the winter as well. If the test is successful, the group wants to heat more stores with heat recovery.

Only renewable power

If heat recovery is not enough on some days in winter, renewable electricity will be used to step up the heat. For this purpose, Eoly will supply renewable power from its own wind turbines and solar panels. The compressor of the propane cooling and the other store installations run completely on green energy. Ian Vinck: "This means a substantial CO2 reduction of 99% for heating as compared to an OKay store with boiler."

New step towards 2020 goal

Earlier this year, Colruyt Group had already announced it wants nothing but low-energy stores by 2029, well-insulated buildings with a low energy demand. With fossil-fuel-free stores, the group even takes it a step further. This fits in completely with the goal the retailer set: realise a 20% CO2 reduction by 2020 as compared to 2008.