solar cooling design tools
 Overview of design tools and models for solar cooling systems

Overview of design tools and models for solar cooling systems

The knowledge hub for solar cooling and air conditioning within the IEA SHC Programme contains a number of new reports. One reviews climate conditions and typical applications for solar cooling. Another looks at technical and non-technical lessons learned, based on a survey of solar cooling experts and practitioners. The report Design Tools and Models lists and describes tools that are used for the different project phases – for example pre-feasibility and sizing – a good service for technicians in the field of solar cooling. We describe this third report in more detail in this news article and list all the new reports at the end of the text.
Scheme: IEA SHC Task 65

“A multi-faceted strategy with technical training, utilization of GIS software and communication activities about the value proposition of solar cooling is necessary to support the dissemination of such technologies,” summarized Dr. Uli Jakob, who chairs the solar cooling knowledge hub within the IEA SHC Programme. Since July 2020 researchers and industry representatives from 16 countries have worked under his leadership within IEA SHC Task 65 titled Solar Cooling for the Sunbelt Regions. He is also co-author of the recently published report Design Tools and Models.

The idea of this report is to review the decision-supporting tools for technical, economic and financial analysis, which have different levels of detail from simple pre-study tools to sophisticated dynamic simulation models. Both systematic online research and a survey among the Task 65 participants were carried out.

The participants were asked for which project phases (pre-feasibility to detailed simulation and analyses of technical and economic performance) of a solar cooling system they use which kind of design / simulation tool. The questionnaire differentiated between four components: solar collector, cooling technology, delivery and storage. The central findings of the survey are shown in the following table.

solar cooling design tools
Results of the survey among Task 65 participants on which tool / software solution they are using for which component. The commercial software Polysun is one of the tools listed in the report but is not shown in this table as it was not mentioned by the participants in the related survey. Source: IEA SHC Task 65

The tools most frequently used by Task 65 researchers are TRNSYS, MATLAB and EES supplemented by Meteonorm, which provides meteorological data for any location on earth. However, many companies and experts have created their own tools for pre-design, design, and analyses of technical and economic characteristics, often based on excel or Python and its features. Most of these tools are kept internal as they often include details of the components or key-system compositions of these manufacturers. You can find a more detailed description of the tools and software solutions in chapter 5 of the report.

“Each tool can be adapted by the company’s users and experts so that it suits the respective application, question and choice of components,” summarized Austrian consultant Daniel Neyer, co-author of the report. In this respect, the design tools and models are as versatile as the implemented solar cooling and air conditioning systems. The tools can therefore hardly be used in general and are not usually comparable with each other.

List of four new reports published by IEA SHC Task 65 in the last six months:

Websites of organizations mentioned in this news article:
IEA SHC Programme:
IEA SHC Task 65 Solar Cooling in the Sunbelt Region:
University of Melbourne –
University of Innsbruck –
Dr. Jakob energy research GmbH & Co. KG –
Neyer Brainworks GmbH –

Bärbel Epp

Bärbel Epp is Founder and Director of the German communication and market research agency solrico and editor-in-chief of