Human settlements

Renewable energy

Solar photovoltaics 02: Commercial solar concentrator systems (for electricity and hot water)

Renewable Energy Commercialisation in Australia, Australian Greenhouse Office, 2003
NOTE: The status of these projects will have changed since the time of publication, and project contacts may also have changed.

Suitable for the generation of both electricity and hot water, the CHAPS system is economical and has the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Joint recipients of a $1 million grant under the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program, the Australian National University and Rheem Industries, have developed a solar concentrator system suitable for the generation of both electricity and hot water in urban regions. The system is called the combined heat and power solar (CHAPS) concentrator system. The system is based on sun-tracking glass mirrors that reflect light onto a receiver lined with solar cells. The solar cells are illuminated with approximately 35 times normal solar concentration and convert about 15 per cent of the sunlight into electricity. The balance of the solar energy is converted into heat, which is removed by water flowing in a channel behind the solar cells. The resulting hot water is collected for use in the building and is stored in a conventional solar hot water tank.

The total CHAPS system costs about the same as a high-quality conventional Solahart commercial hot water system but the fact that CHAPS systems have a dual income stream (electricity and hot water) makes them an economical option.

The dual energy output stream from CHAPS systems gives them a large potential for greenhouse gas reduction. Since they will primarily compete with electricity, which is the most greenhouseintensive energy form, significant deployment of CHAPS systems will lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

It is proposed to integrate a substantial demonstration system into the construction of the Burton and Garran residential colleges' new sustainable hall of residence at the Australian National University. The solar collectors will be placed on the roof of the new building and the water heating system will be integrated into the building's construction.

The new hall of residence will house around 100 students in 68 rooms with kitchenettes and ensuite bathrooms and is ideal for launching the commercialisation of CHAPS technology. It is estimated that the CHAPS system will generate 209kW of thermal energy providing about 80% of the hot water needs of the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry and about 30% of the winter heating requirement via a hydroponic floor heating system. The 56kW DC of electrical output will be converted to AC and put towards the building's load or sold to the grid.

For more information please contact

Professor Andrew Blakers
Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
Tel (02) 6125 5905
Fax (02) 6125 8873

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