There is one drawback to living in a sunny country and that is how expensive it is to keep air conditioners running. People who live in cooler climates, or even in countries that have a chilly winter, cannot understand how necessary air conditioning is to places that have year-long heat and sun.
Saudi Arabia Looking to Use the Sun to Cool Things Down
The areas inside Saudi Arabia are some of the hottest places on earth. It has been fortunate for the country, thus far, to also have an abundant supply of fossil fuels with which to keep air coolers running.
All this is about to change because Saudi Arabia is looking into using their almost continual daily sunshine as a power source instead of the fossil fuels they have in such large supply. Other regions, besides Saudi Arabia, are looking into the use of solar energy for district cooling as well.
Water Heated by Solar Power
The technology for heating water in geysers using solar power has been around for a while now. So, what is stopping the wider spread of solar heat to provide cooling?
Solar air conditioners are already popular installations in countries where the sun is in plentiful supply and interior temperatures reach unacceptably uncomfortable levels. We are talking about temperatures that cannot be lowered by the use of an indoor electric fan.
Keeping the inside of buildings at a temperature where the occupants can comfortably work and live is a constant drain on resources. In the past, countries where the sun causes heat to build up to a peak during the day have only had recourse to shutting down between the hours of noon through to early evening. This tradition is still practiced in the southern parts of Europe and South America.
But having a siesta every day is not an option in this modern day and age. In the city of Dubai, the construction industry is regulated so that workers are not active between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the outside of buildings being constructed.
Widespread Solar Powered Air Conditioning
How to best supply air conditioning to a building is by collecting the solar power in devices called parabolic trough collectors. It works in two stages: First, an absorption chiller will be driven by a water heated from solar energy. The water in the chiller is cooled to 5 degrees and this is then used to provide the district cooling.
During peak periods, additional energy will have to be used in the beginning of this technology implementation. The plan is, however, to begin constructing buildings with the absorption chillers already in place and these buildings will be completely self-reliant in providing themselves with adequate cooling in the summer months.
The goal is eventually for entire districts to be built with this technology. Plans are already in production to begin construction in communities around Riyadh using this air cooling technique. The feasibility of this form of solar powered air conditioning has been proven and will soon spread to larger parts of the world.