It seems like great ideas are popping up all over the place in the renewable energy field, and here is another example. Australian clean energy outfit EnviroMission is planning to build a solar tower that is twice the height of the Empire State Building in the middle of the Arizona desert. This 2,625 foot tall spire will produce 200 megawatts of power, enough to power 150,000 homes. So how does it work?
Solar towers are nothing new, but one of this magnitude most certainly is. The base of the tower is covered in greenhouse material that heats the air below the tower to extremely high temperatures. This warm air is then channeled through the base of the tower, where is is sucked up through the tower, powering turbines along the way. The only emission is warm air out the top of the tower. The tower will work in any weather since it relies on temperature differential, and will also work at night.
The structure will be slightly shorter than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (which is the tallest in the world), and will cost around $750 million to build. However, it will pay for itself in 11 years, and engineers hope the structure will last over 80 years. The Southern CAlifornia Public Power Authority already signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with EnviroMission, and the structure should be finished by 2015.
- Mitchell Flexo