Solar panels and a "water battery" to provide chilled water for air conditioners in an Australian university
In order to become carbon neutral by 2025, the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), in Australia, has announced plans to install a giant "water battery" run by 5,800 solar panels to provide cool water for its air conditioners.
5,800 rooftop solar panels and a 4,500 cubic meter water storage tank are about to be built by Veolia at USC’s main campus. They will chill water for air conditioning. The system is expected to save more than 92,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over 25 years. It is the equivalent to the carbon emissions of 525 average Australian houses for the same period.
Veolia will operate and maintain the infrastructure for 10 years, selling the energy generated back to the university at a rate cheaper than electricity from the grid. After this time, ownership of the infrastructure will transfer to USC.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill says that 60% of the energy of the university is used for chilling water for air conditioning. The 2.1 MW photovoltaic system will produce enough energy to cool 4,500 cubic meters of water. According to Professor Hill, it will reduce the campus's grid electricity use by 36% and will lead to an estimated AUD 100 million of savings over the 25-year life of the project.
The refrigerant used has not yet been revealed but USC intends to use an environmentally friendly refrigerant, and campus lake water for the air conditioning cooling towers. It should save 800,000 cubic meters of potable water.
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