Study Investigates Solar District Cooling Potential for Saudi Arabia

Date: 21/11/2018


Their study of the economics of solar district cooling was published at Energy Conversion and Management, in Performance prediction of a solar district cooling system in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – a case study. “Our proposed solution is a solar district cooling system for new settlements in Saudi Arabia. This concept combines solar cooling and district cooling,” said Franchini.

The study has implications for the climate. With one of the world’s highest per capita energy consumption rates, cooling accounts for more than 70% of electricity use in Saudi Arabia’s year round hot climate. But the Kingdom still produces this electricity almost entirely using fossil fuels, despite its abundant solar resource.

Wider application in the world’s hotter future

Using solar heat for district cooling has seen increased interest as the need for cooling is expected to grow as the climate heats up, not only in Saudi Arabia, but in many regions. “Climate change is a good challenge because of the increase of the cooling load expected due to increasing temperatures,” Franchini added. “So this technology could be interesting also for other locations like in the Mediterranean. In Italy for example, cooling loads are increasing more and more with the higher temperatures in the summer. So this technology can have a good application also in other countries.”

Early in their investigation, Perdichizzi and Franchini determined that solutions based only on PV exhibit some weakness points: the main critical issue is related to the electric storage by batteries for large size systems. So their focus became solar thermal technologies. But which technology would be best? “Our investigation was comparing solar district cooling from parabolic trough collectors or solar cooling from evacuated tube collectors,” said Perdichizzi. “One is based on single stage absorption chiller driven by evacuated tube collectors operating at medium temperatures. The second one is based on two stage absorption chillers driven by parabolic troughs operating at a higher temperature around 170°C.”

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