Masdar turns to Sun’s Heat to Cool Buildings

February 29, 2012

Masdar has successfully activated a proprietary double-effect solar thermal cooling system – the first in the Gulf region and one of only a handful in the world – to test the viability of using the sun’s heat to cool buildings at Masdar City, the emerging low-carbon cleantech cluster being constructed on the outskirts of the UAE capital Abu Dhabi. Designed and engineered by Masdar, the pilot plant is the only one in the world to combine two different concentrating solar thermal collector technologies in a single system.

“Green” air conditioning systems generally consist of conventional compression chillers powered by electricity from photovoltaic panels or concentrated solar power plants. While such conventional chillers and air conditioners use electricity to run a compressor, a double-effect absorption chiller such as the one being tested at Masdar City uses heat to activate a chemical process that provides chilled water for cooling.

If successful, the technology could become a major source of cooling across the 6km2 city. Solar cooling is ideal for medium-scale cooling loads, such as those of supermarkets and shopping malls and can also be implemented in a central cooling plant configuration (“district cooling”). It is especially well suited to address peak cooling demand as the solar thermal energy supply closely matches high daytime cooling demand.

Masdar turns to Sun's Heat to Cool Buildings

“This project reflects the ongoing innovation taking place at Masdar City as we push the boundaries of sustainable cooling to deliver new solutions that not only compete with conventional systems in terms of quality but also excel in terms of what we can achieve via optimised and cost-effective implementation of state-of-the-art solar technologies,” according to Afshin Afshari, Head of Energy Management at Masdar City.

The collectors include a Sopogy parabolic trough collector with uniaxial tracking and a total mirror aperture area of 334m2. It heats thermal oil, whose heat is transferred to the system’s pressurised water circuit through a heat exchanger. A Mirroxx linear Fresnel collector with uniaxial tracking and a total mirror aperture area of 132m2 heats the pressurised water directly.

Schneider Electric provided the control system components for the pilot plant and EM Hidromontaza installed the integrated system. The Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy will analyse the monitored data and assess system performance.

The two solar thermal collector systems have been in successful test operation already for more than three months, explained Simon Bräuniger, project manager for Masdar’s pilot plants. “The collector’s thermal energy has been driving the Broad 50-refrigeration-ton double-effect absorption chiller that is cooling our office building since mid-September, marking the start of full operation for the pilot project.”

The system provides sustainable cooling to 1700m2 of office space using advanced air-conditioning and delivery equipment from Swegon, such as active chilled beams and an air handling unit that achieves 75% energy recovery. The objective is to demonstrate that high-temperature solar thermal cooling is more cost effective and requires a smaller collector footprint compared to a conventional electric chiller plant powered by solar-generated electricity. The solar cooling pilot installation produces cooling equivalent to approximately 80 conventional split-type air conditioning systems, leading to annual emissions reductions of approximately 70,000 kg of CO2.

The pilot plant will be operated for approximately two years to test the technology’s suitability in Abu Dhabi’s climate and weather conditions, and assess the scope of cleaning and maintenance requirements.


Base clean-energy projects reflect president’s priorities includes Sopogy technology

February 5, 2012

Tony Davis Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2012 12:00 am

Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild tour Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's alternative-energy projects. Sutley was here on Friday

A smorgasbord of new clean energy projects at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base shows what’s needed to create an economy “built to last,” said a top White House environmental aide who visited them Friday.

Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley visited a solar-panel-topped basketball court, a device using dry cells to inject hydrogen into car engines and an energy-saving, ceramic-paint-topped building.

She quoted the Obama administration’s economic catchphrase as she proclaimed these test projects are examples that should be transferred to civilian life to build a clean-energy economy.

During the tour, base officials discussed plans to have the California-based Sun Edison utility build enough solar panels to boost the base’s solar capacity to 14.5 megawatts, or about 35 percent of the total power used there. The project starts construction in March and is slated to finish in May, officials said.

They added that the project will put the base above the national standard of 71.5 percent renewable energy sources for military facilities. The base has two solar-panel facilities providing about six megawatts of power to homes.

Sutley, touring with Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, saw:

• An array of Sopogy MicroCSP thermal energy collectors under construction that will chill water that in turn will cool an educational-and-recreational center for base kids. The cost wasn’t available.

• A ceramic-painted building with nontoxic paint that’s supposed to use 22 percent less energy due to the ceramic material’s insulating qualities. The paint costs about $80 per gallon. It was one of four projects under development that Sutley saw at the aging-aircraft maintenance facility known as the Boneyard.

• A microturbine generator that can run on relatively clean natural gas or propane, as opposed to dirtier diesel fuel. The generators cost $100,000 for a 65 kilowatt model and up to $1.7 million for a model generating one megawatt. The turbines power a small building and an air compressor used on pneumatic tools.

• A cooling device that uses a little less energy than a standard evaporative cooler and 80 percent less than an air conditioner. A 5-ton unit costs $5,000.

• Dry cell generators that use the power of alternators to generate hydrogen to use as auto fuels. They can provide up to 6 percent of a vehicle’s fuel requirements, and improve gasoline mileage by 15 to 20 percent, D-M officials said, for a $1,000-per-vehicle kit.

“It’s self-contained, mounted under the hood, with no moving parts,” Davis-Monthan Major Andy Middione told Sutley.

“Do you think it will work on my Subaru?” Sutley asked, to which Middione replied “yes,” adding said it could be installed by any mechanic.

• A 144-room dormitory, costing $12.8 million and partially occupied, that has passive solar heating and piping for gray water along with the solar panels atop the basketball court.

The tour came as President Obama is pushing a sweeping renewable-energy policy calling for continued tax credits to encourage solar purchases. At the same time, he’s supporting continued development of natural gas reserves, which has stirred some concern among renewable advocates that the cheaper gas will discourage use of more expensive renewables.

Meeting with reporters after the tour, Sutley signaled the administration’s willingness to continue to push for more solar panel manufacturing in this country. That’s despite widespread cutbacks among domestic panel manufacturers due to competition from cheaper Chinese panels. Sutley said there is demand for solar panels around the country, and “people want to be close to the demand.”

On StarNet: Read more environment-related articles at

Contact reporter Tony Davis at or 806-7746.
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White House Environmental Quality Chair Visits Innovative Sopogy Project in Tucson

February 3, 2012

First project in Arizona to use Concentrated Solar Power with Dual Effect Absorption Chiller

Tucson, Arizona – February 3, 2012 – Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley, will visit Davis-Monthan Air Force Base today to inspect an air conditioning project that will be fueled by the sun. In a collaborative RDT&E effort, ESTCP, the US Navy and NASA have partnered to build the solar air conditioning system on the Air Force Base. They have selected Sopogy, a Hawaii-based clean tech, as technology provider.

Sopogy’s technology is called MicroCSP for micro-concentrated solar power. MicroCSP is a renewable source of energy delivered through modular, parabolic solar collectors. Sopogy’s collectors are twelve feet long, and weigh less than two-hundred pounds.

At Davis-Monthan AFB, the solar air conditioning system will provide sixty-six tons of chilled air to the Youth Center. Seventy-two MicroCSP collectors will concentrate the sun’s heat onto receiver tubes carrying heat transfer fluid to fuel the chiller. The dual-effect absorption chiller generates cold air with heat, not electricity, the hotter the sun, the more effective the chiller. In addition to the solar collectors, Sopogy is providing proprietary thermal storage to back-up the cooling system. MicroCSP thermal storage is low cost relative to batteries. When clouds roll in, hot fluid will flow from storage to the chiller for continuous production.

Department of Defense studies have concluded that air conditioning accounts for 30-60% of its total facility energy expenditures. Switching from fossil fuels to solar heat will help the DOD to meet is aggressive renewable energy targets. The demonstration project at Davis-Monthan AFB is scheduled for completion in March 2012.

Here’s a video explaining how Solar A/C works: /video/sopohow_how_it_works_ep2.html

About Sopogy
Sopogy revolutionized solar thermal technology with Micro Concentrated Solar Power, or MicroCSP. Developing modular collectors about one-third the size of a traditional concentrated solar power mirror, Sopogy cut the cost of solar thermal energy to a fraction of the cost. Proprietary storage units stabilize volatile energy production when cloudy and prolong production after sunset. Please visit

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