The project will modify Echuca Regional Health’s (ERH) existing rooftop concentrated solar thermal (CST) system to extract and utilise significantly more solar energy, more often, and to lower the cost of operating its cooling service.
The current CST system at ERH has not been optimally configured to maximise thermal flows in tubing. The project seeks to improve the capacity and balance the flow of the rooftop system to allow optimal use of renewable energy and ease reliance upon energy sourced from the electricity grid.
ERH will modify the existing rooftop CST systems through a number of modifications, including installing new valves, a new heat exchanger, new pumps, instrumentation and controls.
A software algorithm will be developed to automatically determine the most optimum configuration for supply to the absorption chillers.
The project will result in additional energy being supplied to ERH’s current rooftop CST broad chiller by drawing thermal energy from existing solar arrays. In turn, this will enable the two solar hot water systems to be used more frequently during the year and reduce ERH’s reliance on grid generated electricity and gas to cool the hospital.
The project is expected to result in twice the thermal energy being stored in the CST broad chiller. This will enable it to meet the hospital’s cooling demands for temperatures well in excess of 29 degrees celsius for a large portion of the summer months.
This will contribute to achieving a significant direct reduction of electricity and gas use for hospital cooling.
The project is expected to:
- improve the technology configuration of CST in a practical application
- increase the use of CST renewable energy
- improve knowledge relevant to the use of CST in similar applications.
The above outcomes are expected to demonstrate a significantly reduced cost of energy for the CST hospital heating/cooling system.
Additional data captured through deployment of the upgraded system will enable ERH to finalise a case study for assistance to the PUSCH (Promoting Use of Solar Cooling and Heating) project, led by CSIRO and supported by ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program. The case study will detail lessons learned to support deployment of similar solar thermal technology for commercial building cooling applications. In particular, the project will demonstrate improvements in solar thermal collector technology, as used with absorption chillers, and integration of collector/absorption systems.