Keeping cool naturally

I came to learn a great deal about renewable energy through my past involvement with NU Energy, a company that has been a leading supplier and installer of solar photovoltaic systems in Australia since 1985. Australia has fantastic renewable energy resources and we’ve only really just begun to explore the potential.

It seems most of the world thinks renewable energy is the future. Bloomberg reported in April-June 2011 period that new capital invested into the solar thermal sector rose 22 per cent to reach $US 41.7 and a recent UN study shows global investment in green energy grew by more than 30% during 2010 to reach a record US $211bn. In fact the Maxwell Drummond International Energy Survey 2011 states that renewable energy will be the main energy source by 2025. Whether this turns out to be true or not, it’s undeniable that the race is on all over the globe.

 And there’s plenty of action here too. Using the blazing sun to cool may seem counter intuitive, but there’s a top team of scientists and engineers in Australian trying to do exactly that. CSIRO’s solar cooling research and test facilities are based at the CSIRO Energy Centre in Newcastle, New South Wales.  Their Solar Air conditioning prototype (SAP) test facility has been designed to evaluate the electrical and thermal performance of complete solar cooling systems.

Solar cooling uses concentrated solar thermal energy to power a thermally driven cooling process. A solar cooling system consists of:
  • solar thermal collectors which capture the heat from the sun
  • absorption cooling machine to convert heat to cooling. Depending on the application, this could be an absorption chiller, an adsorption chiller or a desiccant cooler.

For the home owner the energy savings of solar air conditioning would evidently be enormous. For the service provider, the use of solar at peak demand times would result in enormous savings on energy infrastructure- costs which would otherwise be passed on to consumers.

I’m already sold on the idea but I knew it was a winner when Gerry Harvey said he reckoned solar air conditioning would sell like plasma televisions!