Independent solar cooling specialists and lobbyists: Dr Paul Kohlenbach (left) initiated the Australian Solar Cooling Interest Group (ausSCIG) and Dr. Uli Jakob initiated the Green Chiller Association for Sorption Cooling e.V. in Europe. Together the two experts run the company Solem Consulting. Photo: Solem Consulting
Solar cooling is still in its infancy in Australia despite the country being uniquely suited to the technology, with great solar resources and large air-conditioning demand throughout the country. Economic conditions as well as market barriers currently restrain the market growth of solar cooling technologies. To overcome these barriers and support the introduction and market development of solar cooling in Australia, the Australian Solar Cooling Interest Group (ausSCIG) was founded in 2008 by Paul Kohlenbach while at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Kohlenbach is now the director of the consultancy Solem Consulting. ausSCIG currently has over 170 members – all of them individuals interested in the solar cooling industry in Australia.
In the following text Paul Kohlenbach explains the structure of the interest group as well as the first activities:
The Australian Solar Cooling Interest Group´s activities are targeted towards the promotion and recognition of solar cooling as a viable technology for reducing air-conditioning-related greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. The main group activities include:
• Promotion and recognition of solar cooling
• Providing a forum for networking and exchange of ideas
• Disseminating the latest industry news and research results
• Hosting workshops and conferences
• Locating and encouraging installation of Solar Cooling plant/infrastructure
Early in 2009 two meetings in Sydney and Melbourne were held to consolidate the group and organise the work. Each meeting was attended by approx. 35 members. The first outcome of the group’s work was a petition to the Australian Department of Climate Change on the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) scheme review. The submission proposed that solar cooling products should be included in the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act and thus become eligible for Renewable Energy Certificates. This would provide a financial incentive for building owners to consider solar cooling as an alternative to conventional air-conditioning.
In May 2009 a conference on solar cooling was held at the CSIRO Energy Centre in Newcastle, NSW. Over 80 delegates attended the conference, which was a great success. European solar cooling expert Uli Jakob delivered the plenary conference presentation on his experiences and the development of the solar cooling industry in Europe. In addition to the conference programme, a Solar Cooling Crash Course workshop was held for people new to the technology of solar cooling. Site tours of CSIRO Energy Technology’s solar cooling test facilities followed the conference and were well attended by the members.
The group activities are currently structured in four focus work groups:
(1) Technology Roadmap and Barrier Assessment
(2) Standards Development
(3) Demonstration Funding and Research
(4) Education, Training and Communication
These work groups were formally established in May 2009 and have since actively worked towards the group goals.
- Work group (1) coordinates strategies to advance the interests of the industry with a priority on increasing the number of available products as well as fostering R&D in the area.
- Work group (2) aims to develop a standard or set of guidelines which will facilitate the growth of solar cooling, primarily for residential applications in Australia, by simplifying product development, testing and comparison.
- Work group (3) works on establishing a pathway for industry growth through the underpinning development of best practice knowledge in the design, implementation and operation of Solar Cooling in Australia.
- Work group (4) aims to up-skill professional and trade practitioners to deliver robust cost-effective solar cooling systems and to promote technology understanding and acceptance in the market by communicating and educating potential users.