Air conditioning makes up bulk of the power usage, especially in tropical countries where the sun is shining almost throughout the year and the humidity levels are high. It makes a perfect sense to use solar heat to cool homes, business and factories. Many air-conditioning systems are commercially available using simple roof top PV solar panels to generate electric power to run an electric window air-conditioners. This system uses commercially available solar panels and window air-conditioners and uses solar power to generate electricity to run the compressor and the blower in the air-con unit. This system requires large storage battery to store adequate electricity to run your air-conditioners for specified period. Otherwise it requires a large area of solar panels to meet the demand. The efficiency of such systems can be improved using DC operated compressors and fans. However, renewable energy such as solar is still expensive to run air-conditioners because of high initial investment cost, though it may be economical in the long run as the cost of solar panels and accessories slowly come down over a time. Moreover such systems are limited to small air condition capacities.
For large air-conditioning requirements such as business and factories, we need a system that uses solar heat directly to air-condition the premises with higher efficiency and thermal storage capabilities. Designing such a system is not very difficult because most of the components necessary to install such systems are readily available. One can install an air-conditioning system based on 100% solar thermal heat with molten salt thermal storage. Alternatively, a hybrid system can be installed based on solar heat without a thermal storage but using city gas supply. Many countries use gas for heating during winter seasons but do not use gas during summer. These countries can use a hybrid (solar-gas) system to air-condition their premises and avoid peak electric usage during summer seasons thereby avoiding electrical black-outs. The advantage with such system is they can also be used for heating the premises during winter season. With changing climate due to global warming many warm countries like India also experiences cold temperatures during winter season. For example New Delhi in India has experienced a sharp drop in temperature up to 15-20c during winter from earlier winters.
Solar cooling systems to date have used waste heat gas absorption chiller heaters, which utilize the waste heat from cogeneration systems (CGS) for the cold water. However, these chiller heaters with their established technologies are devices designed for the effective use stable CGS high-temperature waste heat, so they cannot accommodate the preferential use of solar heat when solar hot water temperatures suddenly change from large variations in the heat collector temperatures due to changes in the weather. The new solar absorption chiller heaters are now specially designed for the effective use of low-temperature solar heat to address this problem and improve the energy conservation effect from solar cooling system. Hot water at less than 90C can be used for such systems and typical chillers with their rated specification are shown in the figures.
The efficiency of the system can be vastly improved by using parabolic solar concentrators, up to 27 times higher than ordinary flat plate solar collectors resulting in conversion efficiency up to 85% in heating and cooling. By selecting a natural refrigerant such as R717 we can save the environment from ozone depletion. Such systems offer flexibility to use exhaust heat, natural gas along with solar thermal storage up to 220C (phase transition temperature).The system offers an attractive return on investment, electricity savings and Carbon pollution reduction. The system can be designed from 5TR up to 200TR refrigeration capacity for 100% solar and up to 1000TR for a solar-gas hybrid systems. The solar thermal system with molten salt storage is versatile in its application because the same system can be designed for heating or cooling or on-site power generation for continuous applications.