Solar thermal generation and storage

BHI Solar PanelWe undertake research on energy demand, supply-side management and renewable energy applications, particularly solar thermal energy and smart energy grids. We also work on Zero-energy housing. Our work is undertaken collaboratively with industry.

Solar thermal technologies

Our capabilities include development and testing of new thermal energy storage materials and computer modelling and design of thermal energy storage systems. Thermal storage is considered essential for large scale application of solar thermal technology for dispatchable and economically competitive electricity generation. To date, however, cost-effective compact storage technology has not been developed. Phase Change Materials (PCM) presents an attractive option but they generally suffer from instability and poor heat transfer characteristics. Researchers are investigating new phase change materials that are more stable for high temperature thermal storage. They are also investigating various heat transfer enhancement technologies through computer modelling and physical experiments.

Solar thermal technologies are put to the test in a range of ways including measuring thermal performance of solar collectors, checking the impact of rainfall and large hail stones, evaluating safety and performance during extended periods of no hot water draw-off and protection against freezing temperatures. Various methodologies for rating and monitoring energy use in housing developments have been developed. As a result of our solar thermal energy research, products for commercialisation have been developed such as a roof-integrated heating system, a new generation of solar lights and phase change storage systems for heating and cooling applications. We aim to build on advances in the technology and testing of solar thermal energy systems to improve uptake and ultimately reduce carbon footprint.

Smart energy grids

Electricity generation companies are using renewable energy systems to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but without determining which mixture of technologies is most beneficial. The Barbara Hardy Institute has the expertise to exploit advanced stochastic modelling and dynamic optimisation techniques to structure the integration of renewable energy systems into the electricity supply system. Our contribution to the intelligent grid cluster is the monitoring of energy use in a state-of-the-art sustainable development in the Lochiel Park Green Village, 8kms North-East of Adelaide CBD. Apart from evaluating the detailed performance of various innovations and systems, the project will focus on the interaction of the householders with these systems.

For more information, please contact Wasim Saman.

See also our testing and evaluation services and the Regional Sustainability Centre for sustainable energy applications at the Barbara Hardy Institute.

Key projects include:

  • Adapting to heatwaves

    Adapting to heatwaves

    A framework of adaptation of Australian households to heat waves (NCCARF funded).

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  • Forecasting energy use

    Forecasting energy use

    Forecasting and characterising grid connected solar energy and developing synergies with wind technology (ASI funded).

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  • Whyalla campus

    Whyalla campus

    Regional Sustainability Centre, Whyalla

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  • Renewable energy grid

    Renewable energy grid

    High performance thermal energy storage systems with high temperature phase change material (ASI funded).

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Areas of study and research

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