Solar Heating and Cooling

Science  16 Jan 1976:
Vol. 191, Issue 4223, pp. 143-149
DOI: 10.1126/science.191.4223.143


We have adequate theory and engineering capability to design, install, and use equipment for solar space and water heating. Energy can be delivered at costs that are competitive now with such high-cost energy sources as much fuel-generated, electrical resistance heating. The technology of heating is being improved through collector developments, improved materials, and studies of new ways to carry out the heating processes.

Solar cooling is still in the experimental stage. Relatively few experiments have yielded information on solar operation of absorption coolers, on use of night sky radiation in locations with clear skies, on the combination of a solar-operated Rankine engine and a compression cooler, and on open cycle, humidification-dehumidification systems. Many more possibilities for exploration exist. Solar cooling may benefit from collector developments that permit energy delivery at higher temperatures and thus solar operation of additional kinds of cycles. Improved solar cooling capability can open up new applications of solar energy, particularly for larger buildings, and can result in markets for retrofitting existing buildings.

Solar energy for buildings can, in the next decade, make a significant contribution to the national energy economy and to the pocketbooks of many individual users. very large-aggregate enterprises in manufacture, sale, and installation of solar energy equipment can result, which can involve a spectrum of large and small businesses. In our view, the technology is here or will soon be at hand; thus the basic decisions as to whether the United States uses this resource will be political in nature.