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Cool solution for renewable refrigeration

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced Glaciem Cooling Technologies Pty Ltd (Glaciem) is receiving $2 million in funding to demonstrate the technical and economic value of integrating thermal energy storage with renewable energy into HVAC&R applications. 

Glaciem and the University of South Australia (UniSA) have been developing a low-cost thermal energy storage technology that will store and discharge energy using a heat transfer process. This occurs at a temperature suited to the specific application using special material.  

The new cooling technology will be trialled at food, agriculture and tourism businesses to help reduce their energy costs and emissions from heating and cooling. 

Glaciem Managing Director Julian Hudson says the project aims to commercialise previous research funded by ARENA.

“[The project] will demonstrate that there are other alternatives for end users of HVAC&R that drastically reduce operating costs, maximise the economic potential of renewable energy assets and reduce direct and indirect CO2 emissions,” he says.

The HVAC&R sector consumes around 24 per cent of all electricity produced and is responsible for around 50 per cent of peak demand on the electricity grid.

Glaciem’s technology has the added benefit of using natural refrigerants. The technology also uses an advanced control and forecasting system to optimise the system’s operation based on weather forecasts, electricity price forecasts, and customer demand forecasts to optimise the storage system to maximise customer savings.

The $4.95 million project will build on the outcomes of previous ARENA-funded research and demonstrate Glaciem’s system at three different customer sites:

  • Ceravolo Orchards in Oakbank, South Australia, will install Glaciem’s system with onsite solar PV generation to manage peak demand and optimise the storage and use of renewable energy in a cold storage system.
  • Pernod Ricard Winemakers in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, will install Glaciem’s system with onsite solar PV generation to reduce exposure to peak electricity costs for process cooling.
  • Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, Queensland, will expand the existing solar PV capacity and integrate this with Glaciem’s technology to optimise the air conditioning and water cooling load at the site.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller says Glaciem’s thermal storage combined with renewable energy generation demonstrates an innovative solution that will help industry to reduce emissions and derive more value from onsite renewable energy. 

“These pilot sites trialling Glaciem’s technology will demonstrate that refrigeration equipment, grid supply and onsite renewable energy generation can be reliably integrated across a range of commercial businesses,” he says.

“Helping industry reduce emissions is one of our three investment priorities.”

To read about Glaciem’s AIRAH-award-winning work on an innovative refrigeration system at The Bend Motorsport Park, South Australia, click here.

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