The South Australian government is turning to residential solar thermal air-conditioning technologies in a bid to get slash its rapidly growing peak electricity needs.
The government has put $200,000 on the table in an effort to convince SA industry to develop a prototype residential solar air conditioner driven by the heat from solar thermal collectors.
According to SA government documents, the peak electricity load in the state has grown by 20 per cent in the last three years, driven almost entirely by the use of residential air conditioners.
“The cost of this demand has been realised in the form of increased demand for peaking power generation and electrical network upgrades in the state, and a significant proportion of these costs are spread across consumers as a whole and not just purchasers of air-conditioning systems,” the documents read.
“The development of a solar air-conditioning industry in South Australia for residential consumers could assist in reducing the growth in peak demand.”
While solar thermal air-conditioning is available for use in industrial and commercial settings, it has to date not been widely applied to the residential sector.
“Current absorption or adsorption technologies are based on chilled air,” the documents read. “This suits larger scale applications with air handling units very well.
“In residential applications the extra cost for the air handling unit, as well as the complexity and bulkiness of the systems, make those chillers unsuitable for small applications.”
Earlier this month the Australian solar technology sector got a boost with the official opening of Silex Systems Sydney Olympic Park solar panel manufacturing facility.