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Equal cooling using less energy

17 percent of the world's electricity is used for cooling people and food. To reach the EU's energy and environmental goals, RISE has gathered large parts of the food industry in the innovation cluster BeLivs. Results from BeLivs show that the grocery trade can lower its energy use by as much as 50 percent.

More than half of the food stores' energy consumption goes to cooling foodstuffs and the stores are installing more and more refrigeration disks. Some disks have doors or lids that keep much of the cold in the disks while others are open for the goods to be easily accessible and easy for consumers to pick and put in their baskets.

- Being able to store, store, transport and sell food that maintains the right temperature all the way to the consumer requires both deep and interdisciplinary expertise, says Ulla Lindberg, RISE project manager for BeLivs.

Majority of the industry involved

BeLivs has gathered 90 per cent of the Swedish grocery retailers in order to jointly review what the industry can do to lower its energy consumption. BeLivs was partially financed by the Swedish Energy Agency and is a unique network with both large food chains and smaller local traders.

- BeLivs has carried out many studies and has achieved fine results through the joint commitment and diversity of the network, says Ulla Lindberg.

Ideas for new solutions

Working climate-smart in the food industry is, above all, a matter of knowledge about how to handle heat and cold. The results of case studies in BeLivs have provided ideas for new system solutions. The involvement in the industry is great but the challenge lies in getting the individual actors to understand how they can optimize their own food room to become more energy efficient.

- The solution lies in letting the store's various installation technical systems work together as a single system where there is a constant exchange between a warmer indoor climate and a cooler temperature in the refrigerated counters. In this way you take on both heat and cold and it generates the right temperature in the right place and in a more efficient and energy-efficient way, ”says Ulla Lindberg.

If you let the different systems of the stores cooperate correctly and take into account the involuntary ventilation that arises from the entrance doors and storage doors being open large parts of the day and other ventilation in the premises, the food stores can lower their energy use by up to 50 percent.

BeLivs ran between 2011 and 2018 and was an innovation cluster in the Swedish food industry. The network was run by RISE and partially financed by the Swedish Energy Agency. Ulla Lindberg, PhD, researcher in resource efficiency in grocery retailing and consumer behavior at RISE has been project manager. BeLivs has provided many insights into how the grocery stores can act more energy-efficiently. More info available at

Published: 2019-07-11