200MW solar tower being built in Australia,

bry84February 14, 2005

I was browsing the net and found this really bizarre, but ingenious power plant:


It will be the first full size commercial one in the world, although a very small 50KW one was built in the 1980's and proved they do work. What surprised me is that they work 24/7 because of the thermal mass heats the air overnight and keep the air flowing through the turbines. They're almost a solar thermal battery that charges during the day.

Apparently Enviromission have exclusive rights to the technology in Australia. I can imagine that if it's successful there will be a demand for more, both in Australia and across the world. The idea that you can just build this 200GW power plant which uses no fuel and creates no emissions or waste, is amazing. Of course 200GW isn't as impressive as it used to be, it's the same output as the Calder Hall nuclear plant which was considered vast in the 1950's, and now seems rather tiny next to the vast 1500GW reactors being built today. However, the fact it uses no fuel and has no environmental consequences (other than redeveloping land) makes it impressive enough.

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Interesting . . . . VERY interesting . . . . surprising that that amount of energy can be had from heat rising . . . through nothing more than a technologically refined "chimney" . . . .

Very little environmental impact . . . . and since it in reality runs on temperature differential; it is NOT limited to warm climes . . . . but seemingly those with good solar insolation . . .

The film clip actually points out that lots of plants are fluorishing underneath; not suffering or missing due to it's becoming a "desert" . . . . .

A good real life example of the KISS principle . .. Keep It Simple Stupid . . . elegant simplicity

It'll be interesting too to see how they construct a tower that is ~ 3 times the height of the Empire State building . . . .


    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 6:30PM
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Unfortunately I couldn't watch the film clips on my computer, it seems my browser doesn't support them. However, your mentioning that plants continue to grow under them makes me wonder about the potential uses for the space? It is after all a giant greenhouse, thus, depending on temperature a number of plants/crops could thrive in there. This space under the glass may prove a very interesting advantage to the design.

What caught my attention was also the simplicity, I can see it working in a number of locations. Power plants have allready become something of a mass produced item with various companies selling gas/coal and even nuclear plants that are simply assembled on site. I don't see why a solar chimney couldn't be made and sold in a similar way.

As for the chimney height, it's going to rival quite a few skyscrapers... To take a wild and uneducated guess, they may construct it with something lightweight like metal framing covered in sheet metal, as no doubt masonry will be too heavy and dense for that height. Cylinders are allready quite aerodynamic, so wind loads would be reduced, but it could be further supported with steel wires, like those used on bridges. Well, that's my best guess of how something of that height could be built.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 6:17PM
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Very interesting indeed! The question I have is how much it will cost per megawatt of dependable power. I didn't see anything about that in the website. Anybody notice it?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2005 at 7:55PM
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I saw nothing of cost . . . but I'll guess it will be pretty low in the long run . . . . replacing the fabric every ~ 8 years appears to be the only "maintenance" . . . and I suppose the turbines may need something from time to time as well.

I will guess far less cost than a power plant of ANY type . . . . and since it should last a very long time I'd imagine this thing is gonna be a real winner . . . . Aside from visual "appeal", I can't think of an environmentaly consequence either . . . .

Just put lots of beacons on it to keep them damn planes out of it . . . . .


    Bookmark   February 19, 2005 at 9:53AM
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