Solar Powered Air Conditioning

Solar Air ConditioningI think EVERYONE has considered how solar powered air conditioning would be a perfect solution to one of our biggest energy needs. As it gets hotter, you get more cooling! Right? Well, sort of, in reality central air conditioners use so much energy (several thousands of watts) that they would quickly overwhelm a standard residential solar panel installation even during sunny summer months.
But Professor Marcelo Izquierdo of the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid realized that there is another way we could solve our solar powered air conditioning problem. Instead of using a standard air conditioner compression system, he considered a technology that has been used by industry for many decades, absorption chilling.

Instead of powering a compressor to condense coolant through a standard air conditioning unit, absorbption chilling uses waste heat (from a turbine, hot garage, sunlight) to drive a circulatory system of cooling fluids. Here is one case where more outdoor heat would result in more indoor cooling. In addition, there could be significant energy savings as a result of the process. Also, these absorption air conditioners contain no ozone depleting coolants, while certain older central air conditioning units are still full of the stuff. (source)

Just a few considerations: How large will the thermal collectors need to be? Do they need to be roof mounted like solar panels? Is absorption chilling more efficient than simply mounting solar PV panels and using their electricity output to drive standard air conditioners?

Learn more about Absorption Cooling here, and here.