We have developed new solar cooling technology that will change the way energy is used on a commercial scale, increasing energy efficiency while driving down business costs.

The challenge

Reducing commercial energy use

Building energy demands can often mean high energy consumption and high costs. Large commercial spaces such as shopping centres and hotels can use around 60 per cent of their total energy use for Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC). So how can commercial buildings operate more efficiently while delivering cost savings?

Our response

Investing in new solar technology to drive efficiency

We have developed a cutting-edge solar-powered system using concentrating solar thermal technology that can cool Australian commercial buildings, achieving greater energy efficiency.

These solar troughs capture heat from the sun to provide cooling

Operating at Stockland Wendouree Shopping Centre in Ballarat, Victoria, the demonstration system produces solar heat energy used to power the air conditioning system. The closed-loop system uses two 'desiccant' wheels to remove moisture from the air, acting as a dehumidifier. A high temperature wheel uses solar heat for regeneration while the low temperature wheel functions without any external heat to deliver greater thermal efficiency. An indirect evaporative cooler reduces the temperature of the dehumidified air to provide comfortable temperature conditions.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided $520,000 support toward to the $1.2 million, three-year project, jointly managed by CSIRO with Stockland Group and NEP Solar.

The results

Delivering real outcomes for a clean-tech future

We are pioneering new technologies and this project is a world-first demonstration of a desiccant air conditioning system using roof mounted concentrating solar thermal collectors to drive energy efficiency.

The operational system is expected to reduce HVAC electricity usage for commercial buildings and can provide humidity controlled fresh air into the buildings. The roof space required for this pioneering technology can be 40 per cent less than a traditional single stage desiccant system.

Stockland assisted through the management of the project and is applying the findings into its renewable energy applications.

We will continue to assess and monitor the technology for 12 months to establish long-term commercial operations and further investment as part of our commitment to creating a low emissions future for Australia.

Learn more about our solar cooling research by taking a 360 degree virtual tour of our Controlled Climate Test Facility.

[Music plays and the CSIRO logo appears]

[Image changes to show a blue screen and CSIRO logo and text appears on the screen: Controlled Climate Test Facility]

[Image changes to show a view of the Controlled Climate Test Facility and the camera gradually pans around the facility to show a male seated at a desk]

Narrator: In Australia air conditioning and refrigeration consumes over 20% of all produced electricity and is responsible for around 50% of peak demand on the electricity system.

[Image changes to show the Test Bench area of the Controlled Climate Test Facility with silver ducting throughout the room and the camera zooms gradually in on the ducting and then a male appears on the right-hand side of the room and a sign appears on the left with a heading: Test bench]

Our controlled climate test facility tests the performance of air conditioning components under different climatic conditions to help improve the energy efficiency of residential and commercial air conditioning systems.

[Image shows the male looking at equipment on the Test bench and then walking to the back of the room]

This includes testing commercial evaporative coolers, heat exchanges and desiccant wheels to determine how they perform in a range of climatic conditions as well as new break-through components we have developed.

[Music plays and the image changes to show a male walking towards two silver ducts in the centre of a room and a sign appear on the ducts: Hot & Dry air, Hot & Humid air]

These silver ducts are where two separate air streams are created, hot or cold or humid or dry.

[Image shows the male walking towards the back of the room and a sign appears above his head with a text heading: Temperature control]

We can set a range from 0 to 90° C and 10 to 95% humidity

[Camera gradually zooms in on the back of the room to show the male working on the equipment]

to mimic real conditions from across the globe such as hot and dry like you would find in the Sahara Desert or hot and humid like you would find in Darwin.  Why do we do this?

[Image changes to show another view of the silver ducting]

Because we can push different technologies to the limit to see what works best and how to make improvements to help reduce energy use and costs.

[Image changes to show a view of a male seated at a desk in the Controlled Climate Test Facility]

Our innovation isn’t just happening in a lab.

[Image appears of a sign inset showing a plan of the Education Building and a photo of the Stockland Shopping Centre]

It’s in the real world too including an Education Building at Hamilton TAFE in New South Wales and Stockland Shopping Centre in Ballarat Victoria.  We’re continuing to work with our partners both locally and globally to help deliver a lower emissions future.

[Music plays and text appears: www.csiro.au/energy]

[CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

CSIRO’s Controlled Climate Test Facility: air-conditioner component testing to improve efficiency and performance

More detailed technical information is featured in our interactive 360 degree virtual tour.

You can also visit our Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning Performance Test Facility where researchers evaluate conventional and solar-powered air-conditioning systems.

[Music plays and the CSIRO logo appears]

[Music plays and the image changes to show a blue screen and CSIRO logo and text appears: National Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning (HVAC) Performance Test Facility]

[Image changes to show an outside view of the National Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning Performance Test Facility and a sign appears to the left of the building: HVAC testing]

Narrator: Our National Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, HVAC Performance Test Facility may not have a jazzy name but it performs some impressive research to evaluate conventional and solar powered air conditioning systems.

[Image changes to show an interior view of the building and the camera pans around the HVAC Facility and a sign appears above a desk: Air conditioning testing]

Inside we have two test rooms that can mimic conditions around the world to examine how well air conditioning systems perform.

[Camera continues to pan around the HVAC Facility]

Specifically, how well they work and how much energy they use.

[Image changes to show a test area of the HVAC Facility and a sign appears above a door with a heading: Indoor simulation]

This information can be used by consumers and Government or by industries to understand and improve product performance.

[Image changes to show another test area of the HVAC Facility and a sign appears above a door with a heading: Outdoor simulation]

The system under test can be powered by different solar, thermal and photovoltaic panels on the roof or electricity from the grid.

[Image changes to show an outside view of the solar dish collectors for the HVAC Facility and a sign appears to the right of the solar dish collector with a heading: Solar dish collectors]

We also have solar dish collectors that concentrate the heat from the sun at temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius, store it and use it to power thermally driven chillers.

[A sign appears next to the heat storage tank to the left of the solar dish collector with a heading: Heat storage tank]

By testing these systems in a real-world environment, we can evaluate performance before the technology is used in the field.

[Music plays and an inset aerial view of the HVAC Facility appears]

This provides our partners with the confidence and expertise to identify which technologies are best for different applications and how to reduce system costs.

[Music plays and text appears: www.csiro.au/energy]

[CSIRO logo and text appears: Australia’s innovation catalyst]

CSIRO’s Controlled Climate Test Facility: HVAC research to evaluate conventional and solar powered air conditioning systems

Or take more time to explore its technical capabilities with our 360 degree self-navigated virtual tour.

This trial has been provided with funding support from ARENA.

ARENA was established by the Australian Government as an independent agency on 1 July 2012 to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA invests in renewable energy projects, supports research and development activities, boosts job creation and industry development, and increases knowledge about renewable energy.

Do business with us to help your organisation thrive

We partner with small and large companies, government and industry in Australia and around the world.

Contact us

Your contact details

First name must be filled in

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer.