Buildings Guide

Space Cooling  »  Thermally driven and solar air conditioning


Solar cooling is a proven technology, but hasn’t been widely deployed to date. As of 2009, only 113 large-scale solar cooling systems and 163 small scale ones were installed worldwide. In total, the installed cooling capacity of the 286 systems was just 15.7 MW (Sparber et al., 2009). The capital costs of these systems are substantially higher than conventional electric air conditioners, but can, depending on system design, virtually eliminate electricity costs. Future cost reductions could see solar thermal be-come competitive in niche applications, particularly where there are simultaneous cooling and water heating demand and available waste heat.

Global number of installed solar cooling systems by country, 2009
Source: (Sparber, 2009)
Note: ”Other Countries” include: Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Japan, Kosovo, Lichtenstein, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and the United States.


Solar cooling uses solar thermal collectors to provide the heat required to power thermally driven chillers. Both of these are established, proven technologies, but they are rarely combined to provide solar powered cooling. There were 113 large-scale solar cooling systems and 163 small scale ones were installed worldwide as of 2009. Most of the small-scale systems are installed in Spain, while the large-scale systems are more evenly distributed between France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

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