Friday, December 11, 2009

Solar Tower Energy

While searching for alternative forms of energy I came across a very interesting video on You Tube, which showed a Solar energy tower in Australia that should be up and running in the year 2012. The tower combines the power of solar energy and convection to form an efficient and powerful energy source.
Technically it is known as a solar updraft tower and it is a proposed renewable energy power plant. The tower combines three proven technologies of the chimney effect, the greenhouse effect, and the wind turbine. In the solar updraft tower air is heated by the sun in large greenhouse structures that surrounds the base of the tower, which is basically a very large chimney. As convection occurs it causes concentrated airflow to rise up the the updraft tower. The resulting airflow from greenhouse to the updraft tower drives powerful turbines which produce electricity.
The solar updraft towers ability to generate power depends on two things, the size of the collector area and the height of the tower. One downfall of the tower is that is requires very large amounts of land for the collecting areas, if they want to produce comparative energy amounts to modern power plants. Therefore solar tower construction would mostly be in hot areas, with a low value such as deserts. Another disadvantage of the solar tower is that it has a much lower energy conversion efficiency than other solar energy concentrating power plants.
Even though these towers are expensive they do not leave a footprint on the environment, and the only fuel they require is the sun of which there is much abundance. I think that we should install a solar tower in the U.S. so we could be able to see the costs and benefits first hand of this innovative technology.

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