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Smart cooling to chill energy and carbon issues for Hills, Barossa producers

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Cooling technology that uses solar energy, thermal storage, smart technology and non-toxic refrigerants will be used to reduce energy costs and emissions at major commercial sites in the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.

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Adelaide based company Glaciem Cooling Technology has received $2 million in Federal Government funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to help demonstrate the technical and economic value of its systems at Pernod Ricard’s Rowland Flat winery and Ceravolo Orchards soon-to-be-built apple cold store near Nairne.

A third pilot system will also be installed at Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville.

The $4.95 million project will allow Glaciem to field test its Thermal Energy Storage solution in commercial and industrial settings across heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.

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.

The technology has the added benefit of using natural refrigerants, such as carbon dioxide, rather than commonly used synthetic refrigerants, which are 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.

Glaciem CEO Julian Hudson said the three projects all demonstrated different applications across a variety of industries and would provide valuable data to prove the financial model in the field and drive the cost of production down.

“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,” he said.

“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 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 against is a hedge against changes to what the NEM (national Energy 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 Jacob’s Creek winery also has 2.8MW of solar PV to reduce exposure to peak electricity costs for process cooling.

“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,” Hudson said.

Ceravolo Orchards plans to build 10 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 bi-product of cooling to wash the apples,” Hudson said.

“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.”

The Reef HQ aquarium project will use the Glaciem’s carbon dioxide refrigeration system and thermal storage to cool a 4 million-litre fish tank and provide heating and cooling to the building. The system will be powered by a 260kW solar PV system.

Heat is a bi-product of the thermal storage process and will be used to help run dehumidification units and to maintain an aquarium temperature of 26-28C for a few weeks a year in the cooler winter months.

About 25 per cent of the total project budget is to develop the algorithm onto a cloud based platform. The smart algorithm was developed by UniSA as part of a previous ARENA grant. Its further development will allow Glaciem to use the new cloud based platform on all future projects.

The Aquarium and winery projects are expected to be completed by March 2020 while the apple cold store, which is on a green field site, is not due for completion until the early 2021.

Ceravolo Orchards are looking to build 10 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 bi-product of cooling to wash the apples,” Hudson said.

“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.”

The HVAC&R consumes around 22 per cent of all electricity produced in Australia and is responsible for around 50 per cent of peak demand on the electricity grid and 11 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hudson said Glaciem’s technologies were perfectly suited to Australia but were also well suited for use in many other parts of the world such as the United States, southern Europe and Germany, which was moving towards de-centralised energy grids.

“The industry sector we work in is very under-the-radar but it’s a massive consumer of electricity in Australia and worldwide,” he said.

“It is exciting and when people talk about a low carbon future we believe that all commercial and industrial cooling systems in the future will look like this because the other key thing about combining these three technologies into one is that is actually very well suited to de-centralised grids.”

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said Glaciem’s thermal storage combined with renewable energy generation demonstrated an innovative solution that would 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,” he said.

“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.”

 

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