Potential Study of Solar Thermal Cooling in Sub-Mediterranean Climate
Air conditioning is becoming increasingly important in the energy supply of buildings worldwide. There has been a dramatic increase in energy requirements for cooling buildings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This is before taking the effects of climate change into account, which will also entail a sharp increase in cooling requirements. This paper presents the potential of using a solar thermal absorption cooling system in Sub-Mediterranean Climate. Four sites in Jordan are now equipped with water-lithium bromide (H2O-LiBr) absorption chillers with a total nominal capacity of 530 kW. The focus of the paper was on the pilot system at the German Jordanian University (GJU) campus with a cooling capacity of 160 kW. The system was designed and integrated in order to support two existing conventional compression chillers with a nominal cooling capacity of 700 kW. The system was economically evaluated based on the observed cooling capacity results with a Coefficient of Performance (COP) equals 0.32, and compared with the values observed for a COP of 0.79 which is claimed by the manufacturer. Several techniques were implemented to evaluate the overall economic viability in-depth such as present worth value, internal rate of return, payback period, and levelized cost of electricity. The aforementioned economic studies showed that the absorption cooling system is deemed not feasible for the observed COP of 0.32 over a lifespan of 25 years. The net present value was equal to −137,684 JD and a payback period of 44 years which exceeds the expected lifespan of the project. Even for an optimal operation of COP = 0.79, the discounted payback period was equal to 23 years and the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) was equal to 0.65 JD/kWh. The survey shows that there are several weaknesses for applying solar thermal cooling in developing countries such as the high cost of these systems and, more significantly, the lack of experience for such systems.
Published in: Applied Sciences, 10.3390/app10072418, MDPI