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SoCalGas demonstrates Cogenra’s cogeneration solar system for cooling purposes

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June 4, 2012

Cogenra's cogeneration system produces heat and electricity, increasing efficiency to up t...

Cogenra's cogeneration system produces heat and electricity, increasing efficiency to up to 75 percent

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The Southern California Gas Company, the largest natural gas distribution company in the U.S., has become the first utility in that country to test Cogenra’s solar cogeneration solution for cooling purposes. The system will provide air conditioning for SoCalGas’s Energy Resource Center (ERC). Until now, the technology has been mainly applied to solar hot water, space heating and electricity.

The idea is to add an element of multitasking to a solar system, in order to maximize its output and value. With Cogenra's cogeneration system, captured and stored heat is used to run the air conditioning system, instead of electricity. Ordinarily, silicon solar PV panels convert on average 15 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity, while the rest is discarded as waste in the form of heat. Cogenra’s technology captures this waste and transforms it into hot water.

Although it may sound strange that hot water may be used for cooling purposes, that’s how it works, as absorption chillers then use heat to evaporate water. The cooler fluid will then circulate and absorb heat from its surroundings, consequently cooling the building. It’s not just the building that gets cooled, though. The PV components also benefit from it, as this type of approach boosts their generation efficiency and lifespan.

The demonstration 20 SunDeck module system has a 50.2-kilowatt capacity and was installed on top of the ERC, which has a capacity to accommodate 700 people. The concentrating solar PV system combines photovoltaic panels, concentrating optics, single axis tracking and a thermal transfer system. Because it’s modular and small, this type of system requires less space than flat-panel PV systems, yet its dual production capability (heat and electricity) makes it more efficient.

The Center was created over a decade ago to educate businesses about energy efficiency and solutions. The system will help it offset electricity costs as well as reduce peak demand, which accounts for more than 30 percent of the bills. Cogenra says cogeneration can benefit a range of industries, including hospitality, heathcare, food industry and governmental agencies, to name a few.

Source: Cogenra

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology.   All articles by Antonio Pasolini
2 Comments

I have been saying for many years, that we need to combine several systems for better efficiency. Waste heat from air conditioner units, water heaters, chimneys. Wasted space on rooftops, and around windmills, wasted running water from rooftop drainage, Wasted kinetic in stairways, even escalators from human weight being applied to the treads could be harvested. Add a second windmill to the backside of each windmill (I know the second one will not be quite as efficient) but it would take no more space, and put out more overall power. (Why do we not cover windmills with solar panels? There is a lot of surface area to the tower and nacelle of a windmill.) We produce waste heat from all motors, and most electronics,( solar panels have always had a problem with waste heat, so why not USE it?)) even cooking. stove tops could produce power while producing heat to cook food as the entire cook surface could be water cooled from beneath and as a pre-heater for the water-heater, and with those chips that produce electricity from a heat difference,(can't remember their name) between the two surfaces, you would get a pre-heater, and an electric source, from the same unit.

kellory
5th June, 2012 @ 02:40 pm PDT

This article is clear as mud. How does it work? Evaporating water, not ammonia?? How does that work in?

jerryd
5th June, 2012 @ 06:15 pm PDT
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