Comparison of different solar-assisted air conditioning systems for Australian office buildings

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Energies, 2017, 10 (10)
Issue Date:
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© 2017 by the authors. This study has investigated the feasibility of three different solar-assisted air conditioning systems for typical medium-sized office buildings in all eight Australian capital cities using the whole building energy simulation software EnergyPlus. The studied solar cooling systems include: solar desiccant-evaporative cooling (SDEC) system, hybrid solar desiccant-compression cooling (SDCC) system, and solar absorption cooling (SAC) system. A referenced conventional vapor compression variable-air-volume (VAV) system has also been investigated for comparison purpose. The technical, environmental, and economic performances of each solar cooling system have been evaluated in terms of solar fraction (SF), system coefficient of performance (COP), annual HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) electricity consumption, annual CO2 emissions reduction, payback period (PBP), and net present value (NPV). The results demonstrate that the SDEC system consumes the least energy in Brisbane and Darwin, achieving 56.9% and 82.1% annual energy savings, respectively, compared to the conventional VAV system, while for the other six cities, the SAC system is the most energy efficient. However, from both energy and economic aspects, the SDEC system is more feasible in Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney because of high annual SF and COP, low yearly energy consumption, short PBP and positive NPV, while for Canberra and Hobart, although the SAC system achieves considerable energy savings, it is not economically beneficial due to high initial cost. Therefore, the SDEC system is the most economically beneficial for most of Australian cities, especially in hot and humid climates. The SAC system is also energy efficient, but is not as economic as the SDEC system. However, for Canberra and Hobart, reducing initial cost is the key point to achieve economic feasibility of solar cooling applications.
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