Glaciem Cooling Technology has received $2 million in government funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to demonstrate the technical and economic value of integrating thermal energy storage with renewable energy into heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) applications.
The trial systems will be installed in South Australia at Pernod Ricard’s Rowland Flat winery in the Barossa Valley and Ceravolo Orchards in the Adelaide Hills, as well as in the Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville, Queensland.
The $4.95 million project will allow Glaciem to field test its thermal energy storage technology in commercial and industrial HVAC&R settings.
Glaciem and the University of South Australia have spent a decade developing a low-cost thermal energy storage technology to store and discharge energy using a heat transfer process. This occurs at a temperature suited to the specific application using special material.
This technique avoids the use of synthetic refrigerants, such as carbon dioxide, which can be harmful to the environment.
The air-cooled CO2 refrigeration system has been operating at The Bend Motorsport Park, about 100km southeast of the South Australian capital Adelaide, for about 15 months, providing UniSA and Glaciem with more than a year’s worth of clean data in a commercial setting.
Glaciem’s 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 allow the storage system to maximise savings.
Glaciem CEO Julian Hudson says the three new projects cover different applications across a variety of industries and will provide valuable data to prove the financial model in the field and drive down the cost of production.
“At the end of these three projects we’ll be able to validate the financial models for people to give potential end users the commercial confidence in this technology – it is robust and you can get significant savings by moving over to this platform but at the moment all the numbers we have are just numbers,” says Hudson.
“With these projects we will be able to say ‘this is what it cost before, this is what it cost a year later and this is what the operating cost looks like’, which then puts us in a position to be able to go to Clean Energy Finance to access cheaper funding for future projects.
“It also future proofs the investment because there are no synthetic refrigerants attached to it and if you’ve got a cooling and heating process within your business then having a thermal battery with some smarts is a hedge against changes to what the NEM (National Electricity Market) will look like in the future.”
Pernod Ricard Winemakers in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, will install Glaciem’s thermal battery and smart control system to an existing ammonia cooling system.
The system will be used for process cooling and is to be powered by the Jacob’s Creek winery’s 2.8MW solar PV installation.
“That’s an interesting scenario because Pernod Ricard have direct exposure to the spot market so that specific project demonstrates how renewable energy, thermal storage and smarts can work when you’ve got spot market access that gives you a technical hedge against the electricity market,” says Hudson.
The Reef HQ aquarium pilot will use the carbon dioxide refrigeration system and thermal storage to cool a 4ML fish tank and provide heating and cooling to the building. The system will be powered by a 260kW solar PV system.
Heat is a biproduct of the cooling process and will be used to help run dehumidification units and to maintain an aquarium temperature of 26-28°C for a few weeks a year in the cooler winter months.
“In that scenario it shows how the technology works in a building and also if you are not exposed to the spot market but you’ve got very low exports and demand tariffs,” says Hudson.
“They’ve already got some chillers that are doing the bulk of their air-conditioning so the new system is supplementary to that but is operating on carbon dioxide so will provide a very good comparison to the standard HFC system.”
Ceravolo Orchards is looking to build ten long-term apple stores near Nairne in the Adelaide Hills. The stores will be connected to 500kW of solar PV, heat pumps and 4.2MW of thermal storage.
“They’ll make ice in the day time and use that for cooling during the night and at the same time as they are making ice the system will generate hot water as a biproduct of cooling to wash the apples,” says Hudson.
“They’ll be able to dramatically shift their operational costs by about 90 per cent while avoiding a transformer upgrade along with a range of other benefits.
“So that particular project shows the technology in a greenfield application in a cold store supply chain environment.”
ARENA CEO Darren Miller says that Glaciem’s thermal storage combined with renewable energy generation demonstrates an innovative solution that will help industry reduce emissions and derive more value from on-site renewable energy.
“These pilot sites trialling Glaciem’s technology will demonstrate that refrigeration equipment, grid supply and on-site renewable energy generation can be reliably integrated across a range of commercial businesses,” comments Miller.
“Helping industry reduce emissions is one of our three investment priorities, and heating and cooling is a huge driver of our electricity consumption including peak demand, which drives higher electricity prices for everyone.
“There are significant opportunities across the heating and cooling sector to reduce energy costs and emissions by combining renewable energy alternatives with innovative storage technologies, and we’re proud to support a homegrown startup like Glaciem do just that.”