News story –
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), a natural gas distribution company covering Central and Southern California territory, unveiled on May 22, a solar thermal technology on its Energy Resource Center in Downey, California, that can power air-conditioning systems while co-producing renewable electricity.
The solar cogeneration system, designed by Cogenra Solar of Mountain View, California, uses mirrors and a tracking system to capture the sun’s energy and focus the sunlight onto an array of photovoltaic solar collectors to produce electricity and hot water at the same time. The solar-heated hot water is used in place of electricity or natural gas to power an air conditioning process to provide 10 tons of cooling, or enough air conditioning to cool two average-sized homes.
Until now solar cogeneration applications included solar hot water, space heating and electricity – SoCalGas’ solar cooling application is a demonstration of solar cogeneration’s versatility in addressing customers’ diverse energy needs and opens up the vast cooling market to Cogenra’s solar cooling solution according to Cogenra. Instead of using electricity (most commonly used-method) to run mechanical chillers, SoCalGas’ demonstration project captures and stores the heat generated by solar cogeneration to power one of the Energy Resource Center’s absorption chillers and support the building’s air-conditioning system on-demand.
“We created the Energy Resource Center over a decade ago to help Southern California businesses learn about energy efficiency technologies and solutions,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas. “We encourage the development of innovative solar technologies, like Cogenra’s solar cogeneration system, as they can help strengthen our customers’ environmental efforts. This project also demonstrates our commitment to renewable resources by diversifying the Energy Resource Centers’ energy production from solar cogeneration.”
SoCalGas’ Energy Resource Center includes office space, meeting rooms for workshops and seminars, and an exhibit hall – in all, capable of accommodating over 700 people. In collaboration with Solarrus Corporation, of Irvine, Califonia, Cogenra Solar installed a 20 SunDeck® module system on the roof of the building. The 50.2kW installation will produce electricity to power the building and heat to drive a single-effect absorption chiller.
Solar cogeneration is a solution that is not limited to utility use and provides heat, cooling and electricity for a range of cleaning and process applications according to Cogenra. Multi-family, government, hospitality, healthcare, wine, and food facilities are also using this hybrid solution.