CSIRO is developing new technologies and systems which use solar thermal energy to provide low emission cooling - or heating - for buildings and refrigeration for food storage.
20 July 2010 | Updated 9 August 2013
Heating and cooling buildings typically accounts for over half of a building’s energy needs.
On Australia’s hottest days, peak electricity demand almost doubles due to increased use of air conditioners in offices, homes and factories.
Solar cooling uses abundant solar thermal energy to power a thermally driven cooling process and displace electricity consumption.
By displacing fossil fuel derived electricity in the cooling cycle, solar cooling is likely to be an important component of future zero emissions buildings and may also play a role in reducing peak demand on the electricity grid.
Solar air conditioning
CSIRO scientists are developing new technologies which use the natural heat from the sun (solar thermal energy) to provide space cooling, or heating, for buildings, homes and offices, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from air conditioning.
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.
Currently, CSIRO engineers are developing a new desiccant solar cooling system for home use.
A solar desiccant cooling system is being tested in real conditions at the Hunter TAFE campus in New South Wales.
Solar cooling technologies can also be applied to cold storage for food and other perishable goods.
CSIRO scientists are working with international collaborators to develop solar cooling technologies to assist in food refrigeration in rural villages in India. Read more about this project: Cooling India [external link].
CSIRO solar cooling expertise
CSIRO’s solar cooling research facilities, including a controlled climate test facility and air conditioner prototype test lab, combined with our technical expertise ensures CSIRO is leading solar cooling research in Australia.
Learn more about CSIRO’s solar cooling research facilities.