In September 2017, CIRSA implemented a solar thermal cooling technology in the cooling system of its corporate building in Terrassa (Spain). It is a process that places a 5-panel heat exchanger between the compressor and the condenser, using solar energy to heat the refrigerant and thereby reduce the workload of the compressors, thus achieving substantial energy reductions.
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CIRSA is a worldwide leader in the gaming and leisure industries and the largest Spanish company in the sector. In 2017, CIRSA achieved an operating profit of 427 million euro and an operating income of 1,716 million euro. With 14,500 employees, the company provides a broad range of facilities, including 146 casinos, over 39,200 gaming machines, 70 bingo halls, 188 arcades, 3,000 sports betting outlets and more than 2,500 video lottery terminals in Spain, Italy and Latin America. The company also operates an online gambling business in Spain, Colombia and Panama, where it holds the relevant licences.
CIRSA receives more than 60 million visitors across its facilities each year. Because of the nature of CIRSA’s operations, its daily activities last up to 19 hours. This translates into high energy consumption that sums up to 29 GWh/year in Spain.
The Terrassa building in Spain is the company’s head office and has an annual energy consumption of around 0.6 GWh/year. The installation of a solar thermal cooling system at this site provided CIRSA with the necessary knowledge and experience to confidently implement the technology at other locations.
CIRSA is committed to achieving energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption in their cooling systems, as reflected by the fact that they have implemented the technology in other buildings in Panama and Colombia
At CIRSA, between 30% and 55% of total energy consumption comes from their buildings air conditioning, making them an obvious focal point for energy efficiency efforts. An attractive and relatively new option was identified in the integration of solar thermal technology into a cooling cycle to bring about significant energy savings.
CIRSA decided to bet on a solar thermal cooling system for the first time with several small pilot plants in Panama, some of which achieved yearly savings in energy consumption from the refrigeration system of up to 62%. Furthermore, peak demand from the system was reduced from 361 kWh to 137 kWh. The success reflected in Panama gave them the needed push to make a larger investment in a plant for one of their casinos in Medellin, Colombia, that has also brought about significant annual monetary and energy savings. Specifically, annual reduction in energy consumption added up to about 0.5 GWh, a 19% decrease.
As a result of the successful implementation of the technology in Latin America, in 2017 CIRSA took a decisive step and installed a 300 kWth solar thermal cooling system plant on a 100 kWth Carrier chiller at their head office in Terrassa. For the necessary investment they opted for leasing as their financing method, with an expected payback period of three to four years.
In Spain, although the technology operates throughout the year, the solar radiation levels needed to achieve energy savings are reached only between the months of April and September. The COP (Coefficient of Performance) improvement varies depending on radiation, so when there is no radiation, or it is nighttime the machine maintains a factory-level COP, that is, the solar thermal system does not bring about an improvement.
To ensure that the implementation was conducted as smoothly as possible, two technology experts supervised the installation on-site. With their help, tests were conducted, and a monitoring system was installed to screen the technology’s performance with precision regarding electricity consumption and thermal production. The tests were carried out in October with average solar radiation levels and capacity operation between 33% and 66% and information was recorded between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. over nine days. Over the testing period no incidents were observed, and the technology was successfully implemented.
“At CIRSA, we felt we needed to test the technology in Spain to confidently approach new projects and installations involving solar thermal cooling systems. With this in mind, we contacted a provider interested in the development of the solution and invested time and resources to acquire the necessary training and knowledge to successfully integrate it in our building in Terrassa.”
Enrique Pérez Abad, Energy Efficiency Manager
Energy consumption from the building’s heating and cooling system has decreased by 28% since the implementation of the technology and GHG emissions have been reduced by 10.5 tCO2 per year
One of the advantages presented by the solar thermal cooling technology installed by CIRSA is that analysis on savings are easy and precise because of the control programme that was installed. The analysis established that yearly energy consumption savings of 28% have been achieved and annual GHG emissions have been reduced by 10.5 tCO2 thanks to the implementation. Furthermore, a 12% COP improvement was registered.
Other benefits presented by the technology are:
- The decrease in consumption is achieved in peak hours, when energy is most expensive
- Because of the reduction in the use of the compressors, there is an increase in their life expectancy
- The technology can be installed on new or existing cooling systems
- The technology is scalable as it can be implemented on any cooling system
- Maintenance of the panels is limited as they only require basic cleaning