Tower of Solar Terror

1 Mar

Nils passes along today's science story from Wired:

The quest for a new form of green energy has taken a significant step with the purchase of a 25,000-acre sheep farm in the Australian outback. The huge alternative energy project isn't driven by manure, but by a 1-kilometer-high thermal power station called the Solar Tower.

Announced several years ago, the 3,280-foot Solar Tower is one of the most ambitious alternative energy projects on the planet: a renewable energy plant that pumps out the same power as a small reactor but is totally safe. If built, it will be nearly double the height of the world's tallest structure, the CN Tower in Canada.

The Solar Tower is hollow in the middle like a chimney. At its base is a solar collector — a 25,000-acre, transparent circular skirt. The air under the collector is heated by the sun and funneled up the chimney by convection — hot air rises. As it rises, the air accelerates to 35 mph, driving 32 wind turbines inside the tower, which generate electricity much like conventional wind farms.

But the Solar Tower has a major advantage over wind farms and solar generators: It can operate with no wind, and 24 hours a day. Thanks to banks of solar cells, the tower stores heat during the day, allowing it to produce electricity continuously.

Link: Wired News: Solar Tower of Power Finds Home

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