Renewables helped power supply 

WHILE coal-fired electricity was primarily responsible for cooling the Hunter on Tuesday, the expanding renewable energy sector also made a significant contribution.

The CSIRO energy centre at Steel River produced 34 per cent of its energy needs on site for a 24-hour period.

The energy sources included solar, wind and co-generation (recycling waste heat from an electric generator).

‘‘There are certainly some days where we put back electricity back into the grid, but today’s high heating and cooling demands meant we used more electricity from the grid,’’ CSIRO site energy spokesman Dr Josh Wall said.

Smart airconditioner controls were a major contributor to improved efficiency at the site. The technology has resulted in improved airconditioner efficiency of up to 40per cent.

‘‘That technology was commercialised in 2009 and is being rolled out across Australia and the United States,’’ Dr Wall said.

Researchers hope the next generation of airconditioning  and solar cooling systems could hit the market within the next couple of years.

Development and testing is taking place in a  laboratory that can test the electrical, cooling and heating performance of airconditioners under  simulated global weather conditions from 2 to 45 degrees.

A third-generation solar airconditioner prototype developed in Newcastle is about to be installed in three homes in North Queensland.

‘‘Once we know that the performance is good and it services the electricity network issues it should be ready to hit the market,’’ CSIRO’s National Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Performance Test Facility team leader Dr Stephen White said.

The laboratory is also used to test  the efficiency of split-system airconditioners.

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