This emissions reduction project will cover six main sectors of UK economic activity, all vital to modern life and all working to reduce their energy use and carbon emissions:

Transport Refrigeration.  Transport refrigeration is a vital part of every cold chain: perishable goods, mainly food but also medical supplies and other goods, have to be refrigerated on their way from harvest or production to the consumer.  Most refrigerated road transport unit applications are associated with commercial refrigeration, with operating temperatures in the chilled (from 0 to 8°C) and frozen (typically below 18°C) ranges. Our project will quantify the carbon emissions from the UK refrigerated transport and develop roadmaps for their mitigation.

Datacentres represent an energy intensive industry, being responsible from 1.5% [1] to around 3% [2] of electricity demand in the UK. There are over 400 DC facilities across the country, which are the backbone of an internet economy that contributes to over 16% of domestic output, 10% of employment and 24% of total UK exports [3]. Research from the National Grid indicates an expected growth of 70% in demand for data centres by 2050 [4], which would lead to a similar increase in the demand for energy and cooling.  

  1. National Grid ESO (2020). Future energy scenarios. Davies et al. (2016). Using DCs for combined heating and cooling: An investigation for London, Applied Thermal Engineering 94, 296-304.
  2. Hintemann, R. (2015). Energy consumption of data centers continues to increase – 2015 update.
  3. Tech UK (2020). The UK Data Centre Sector.
  4. National Grid ESO (2020). Future energy scenarios.

Commercial Refrigeration. The cold chain is vital to our economy and society. By transporting food, pharmaceuticals and other products safely from where they are grown or extracted, through the manufacturing process, into shops and restaurants and ultimately to the end consumer, the cold chain makes modern life possible. Cold stores and retail are a fundamental part of the cold chain ensuring food is stored and displayed at the correct temperature.

Industrial Refrigeration

a) The Food and Drink Industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, the sector is worth £129bn and accounts for 9.4% of national gross value added (GVA) and is responsible for 4.1 million jobs [1]. Chilled food production in the UK is one of the world’s fastest-growing, most innovative and advanced food sectors. Currently worth more than £14bn, it employs more than 100,000 people and each year puts 15,000+ different foods on shelves [2]. The UK frozen food industry is estimated to be worth in excess of £8bn [3].

  1. Food & Drink Federation (2021). Roadmap to Net Zero. Overview for the UK food and drink sector.
  2. Chilled Food Association
  3. British Frozen Food Federation

b) The Chemical Industry generated, in 2016, £11.3bn of GVA, which accounted for 6.6% of total UK manufacturing GVA and 1% of gross domestic product (GDP). This sector employed approximately 100,000 people in that year. In 2012, it was estimated that the chemical industry consumed 16.5% of all the energy used by UK industry, being responsible for 18.4 MtCO2e emissions (2nd largest industrial emitter) [1]. The energy used for cooling in the chemical sector is largely unknown and our project aims to work with the industry to identify the associated carbon emissions.

  1. BEIS (2017). Chemicals Sector: Industrial Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Roadmap Action Plan.

c) The Pharmaceutical Industry had a turnover of £36.7bn and employed 63,900 people across the UK in 2019. The GVA from the pharmaceutical industry is estimated at £14bn [1]. In the UK, the net zero strategy for the National Health Service (NHS) has identified that 20% of the NHS’s carbon emissions are attributable to the supply of pharmaceuticals [2]. 

  1. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (2022). Facts, figures and industry data.
  2. National Health Service. (2022). Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service.

Information provided by Catarina Marques, Project Director