Associate Professor Alistair Sproul

A/Prof Alistair Sproul - UNSW SPREE

What is new and innovative about your research projects?

My research is focussed on Photovoltaic (PV) energy systems and their integration with buildings, in order to develop low energy, low carbon buildings. At a time where energy costs to consumers are rising, distributed PV and energy efficiency are the most cost effective ways to reduce consumer’s energy bills as well as lowering their carbon emissions.

To date photovoltaic systems are predominantly designed to be add on systems that can deliver electricity to a building while the sun is shining. Our research is looking at what additional value can be gained from PV systems that can produce more than just electricity. One promising pathway that we are investigating is to capture low grade heat from the PV panels (typically using air or water) to deliver warmth in the winter into buildings. For the summer months, we are currently working on developing low temperature desiccant cooling systems that can be completely driven by the low grade heat we can extract form the PV panels. These systems are a hybrid PV and solar thermal collector (PV/T).   

What is the real-world value of your research projects?

A large part of my research is involved with my current position as Program Leader (Integrated Building Systems) with the “Low Carbon Living” Cooperative Research Centre.

Through the CRC my research is linked very closely with industry partners who work with us and other research institutions such as the CSIRO to develop new and improved renewable energy systems for use in buildings. The aim of the CRC is to carry out research that can assist Australia in moving towards a low carbon built environment. This is done by developing cost effective low carbon products and services, while maintaining industry competitiveness and improving quality of life.