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Tower of Power

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by asdar, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. asdar

    asdar Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    I thought this was a cool bit of technology. It's a big Tower surrounded by green houses that slope upward toward the center tower.

    It's been tested in Spain for 8 years with a lot of variables thrown at it and produced steady power for 8 years. Now they're going to build this in Australia and possible China and Texas.

    There's a link to a better simulation on the site:

    I'm too jaded to believe any new technology will work half as well as they think it will, but this caught my interest.
  2. danny

    danny Administrator

    Aug 15, 2006
    wow thats cool........
  3. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Hamilton, Texas
    I think the solar tower is ingeneous. It's not too efficient at turning solar power into electricity -- meaning, it takes a lot of land and sunlight for a given amount of power output. But what does it matter? If there's anything Australia is blessed with, it's sunshine falling upon otherwise empty land. This thing can be manufactured relatively cheaply, without requiring any exotic materials or technologies, and provide power for a very long time with little maintenance required. It's a great example of looking toward cost-effectiveness rather than being led astray by raw efficiency numbers.

    There might be a shock when they start to add up how much land they'd have to cover with solar towers in order to fill the whole country's energy needs. . . . Even in Australia I have a hard time picturing that happening. Yet it still can fill a role.
  4. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

    Aug 17, 2006
    Slovenia, Europe
    I wonder who will clean the dust from all that glass?
  5. asdar

    asdar Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    I thought of an idea to modify this a bit. If you search for downdraft towers there's a concept that was first patented in the U.S. and revitalized by an Israeli student. It's almost the exact opposite of this tower.

    Basically you take a tall tower and spray water at the top into hot dry air. The evaporation cools the air forcing a downdraft that can turn turbines at the bottom. Well, my idea is to build the cool downdraft tower inside the Hot updraft tower. This tower is supposed to be 400m diameter, just like the updrafter tower EnviroMission is building. (Pi X 200 squared)

    To get the exact same area for the hot updraft The outer diameter would be 501m diameter. ((Pi X 250.5 squared) - (Pi X 200 squared)

    I'd bury the cool downdraft turbines with exhaust vents that go out to the end of the greenhouse skirt and direct the air at neutral or inward.

    This way you'd get Hot dry air for the cool downdraft and Cool air to heat and rise for the solar updraft. I'd think this would have to drastically lower the construction cost of doing both separately and they could both share all of the various control systems that any large power station has to pay for.

    The one requirement that might be difficult is that the downdraft requires water, saltwater is ok, but it does need water.

    The perfect location for one of these is Somalia, Djibouti or any of the hot dry eastern African nations that border the Ocean because the low technology required and the minimal maintenance. As a side benefit this desalinates water as a by product of the whole thing.

    I'm not trying to sell anything, this is just a raw and probably impossible idea that banged around my empty head.
  6. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2006
    CA CA
    PGE -biggest investment into solar, ever

    California Utility Signs $3 Billion Solar Power Deal
    By Matt Nauman
    The San Jose Mercury News
    Tuesday 01 April 2008
    Utility project would put five power plants in the Mojave Desert.

    Pacific Gas & Electric today will announce a deal to buy as much
    as 900
    megawatts of electricity. It will be enough to power 540,000 California
    homes each year, and involve the construction of five solar power plants
    during the next decade. The company to build the solar-thermal power
    in the Mojave Desert is BrightSource Energy.

    "From what I know, this is the biggest commitment ever in the
    of solar," said John Woolard, BrightSource Energy's chief executive
    and president. "It's a fairly significant undertaking on both sides."

    Building all five plants in the Mojave will cost $2 billion to $3
    billion, Woolard said. The project, which faces regulatory and financing
    hurdles, could mean 2,000 construction jobs, and employ about 1,000
    to operate the plants.

    BrightSource's founder and chairman is Arnold Goldman, whose
    now-defunct Luz International built nine solar plants in the Mojave
    between 1984 and 1990. They're still operating.

    BrightSource uses what it calls distributed power towers, or DPTs,
    which sunlight from thousands of movable mirrors are concentrated to
    water to more than 1,000 degrees in a boiler to make steam. That steam
    feeds a turbine that makes electricity.

    BrightSource will begin the first demonstration of its technology
    at a
    small-scale plant in Israel in April. It anticipates the first of its
    California plants for PG&E, a 100-megawatt facility, to be up and
    "as early as 2011," Woolard said. That plant, and a larger 200-megawatt
    plant scheduled to begin operation in 2012-13, will be built on the
    dry-lake bed in San Bernardino County.

    Three other BrightSource 200-megawatt solar plants also are
    planned, to
    be built from 2014 to 2016 at the Broadwell dry lake, about 100 miles
    southwest of Ivanpah.

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