100 facts about Solar at CSIRO: Part 4

To celebrate our 100th blog post, we’ve put together (in no particular order) a list of 100 things you may not know about solar research at CSIRO. Today we talk about solar cooling research, our on-site generation from solar power, and the raw material itself: sunlight.

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Solar cooling

  1. CSIRO solar cooling technology can provide air conditioning, heating and hot water to a building – all from the low-temperature energy gathered by conventional solar hot water panels.
  2. CSIRO’s two-room ‘balanced ambient calorimeter’can replicate the weather conditions of different locations all around the world. This lets us test how conventional or solar air conditioners would perform in cities or countries with different patterns of temperature and humidity.

    An experiment you can walk inside: our two-room balanced ambient calorimeter

  3. The balanced ambient calorimeter can test solar air conditioners ‘on sun’ (using real solar heat), and can even replicate the effects of different building materials (like insulation) and different heat sources (like people or computers).
  4. CSIRO’s commercial-scale solar cooling technology has been installed at the Hamilton TAFE. It provides space cooling, space heating and hot water for teaching-kitchens, the campus function room, and office spaces.

Solar on site

  1. There are over 100 kW of solar photovoltaic panels generating electricity for the Newcastle site. Three different varieties are represented: monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon and dye-sensitised cells.
  2. The dye sensitised array on our building was the first commercial installation of DSCs in the world.

    Stained glass window: our dye sensitised cell array from the outside (left) and inside (right).

  3. The sun helps us reduce our use of air conditioning. The stairwells in our office building act like ‘solar chimneys’ that draw a natural flow of fresh, cool air in from the central gardens and through the building.
  4. The sun helps us save on lighting costs. White boards outside the windows called ‘light shelves’ reflect diffuse light into the office, allowing the fluorescent lights to dim and save power.
  5. Our on-site generation, which includes our solar panels, saves us a lot of CO2 emissions every year – but we save five times as much as that again due to our energy-efficient building features. It just goes to show that prevention really is better than cure.


  1. In the 12 months to date, each square meter on our site has received about 5.8 gigajoules of solar energy. That’s equal to the amount of energy released by burning a barrel of oil. Over our whole Newcastle site, that adds up to about 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent.
  2. The best sites in Australia can receive over 9 gigajoules of solar energy per square metre each year. That’s about one and a half times what we get in Newcastle – which in turn is about one and a half times as much sunlight as the best solar locations in Germany.
  3. The sun doesn’t simply rise in the east and set in the west. At our Newcastle site in summer the sun rises 29 degrees south of east.

    Not really a robot playing golf.

  4. We measure how much solar energy we get using a device that looks like a golf-playing robot.
  5. How do you know just how sunny your part of Australia is? CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research division is working on it. They’re collaborating with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and NREL in the US to make Australia’s first comprehensive solar radiation data set.

One Comment on “100 facts about Solar at CSIRO: Part 4”

  1. Carol Saab says:

    Reblogged this on News @ CSIRO and commented:

    There’s always a reason to employ a golf-playing robot. More great facts from our Solar blog.

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