A tower of power: Bizarre half-mile-high structure could produce as much …

May 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

  • Permission has been granted to build the Solar Wind Energy Tower
  • This huge structure will be based near the city of San Luis, Arizona
  • The tower is half a mile tall and will be built in the middle of the desert
  • To generate power water is sprayed in and ‘heavy air’ is circulated
  • This can apparently produce as much power as the Hoover Dam

By
Jonathan O’Callaghan

10:11 EST, 23 May 2014


|

11:43 EST, 23 May 2014

Wind turbines and solar panels have often been touted as the solution to the growing energy crisis, but could the answer really lie in the movement of water and air?

That’s what one company based out of Maryland thinks – The Solar Wind Energy, Inc. has recently been given permission to build a giant downdraft tower.

Known as the Solar Wind Energy Tower, it would stand nearly half a mile (0.8 kilometres) tall and generate as much power as the Hoover Dam.

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The Solar Wind Downdraft Tower (artist’s illustration shown) is the first hybrid solar-wind renewable energy technology on the market. The patented structure is comprised of a tall hollow cylinder with a water injection system near the top and wind tunnels containing turbines near the bottom

The tower works by spraying water in at the top, making air heavy and causing it to fall, which causes 120 huge turbines to turn at the bottom.

At peak operation, during a particularly sunny day, the tower can apparently produce 1,250 megawatt-hours – roughly equivalent to the power output of wind turbines spread over 100,000 acres.

But the main advantage of this system, according to the company, is that it can run day and night and it does not rely on particular weather, such as wind or sunshine, to operate.

Downdraft technology is not entirely new, but the company claims they have an innovative new patent that makes it more feasible.

One of the biggest drawbacks was the sheer size and cost of attempting to construct such a tower.

But now they have been given permission to begin the funding and operation of the project in San Luis, Arizona.

The company also hopes to export the technology to other countries including Chile, India and the Middle East.

 

HOW DOES THE SOLAR WIND DOWNDRAFT TOWER WORK?

Water is sprayed in at the top of the structure, which stands 2,250 feet (685 metres) tall, almost twice the height of the Empire State Building.

This causes hot air to become heavy, and it then falls through the tower.

At the bottom of the tower are 120 turbines, with the ability to circulate 2.5 billion gallons of water.

As it falls through the tower the air reaches speeds of up to 50 miles (80 kilometres) per hour.

This runs the turbines and produces power, some of which is used to pump water back to the top.

The exterior of the tower could also have ‘wind vanes’ that would capture wind and use it to produce additional electrical power.

This makes it, according to the company, the first ‘hybrid solar-wind renewable energy technology’ on the market.

The system can run 24 hours a day, but it does require large amounts of water.

It also needs to be in an environment with hot air, which is why the Arizona desert is ideal.

One possible stumbling block could be the cost of the project, which is estimated to be about $1.5 billion (£890 million).

However, Solar Wind Energy have been granted preliminary funding by National Standard Finance, which should make the project feasible.

On their website, the company outlines their goal of eventually building multiple towers and providing a new source of renewable energy.

‘Each Tower will be constructed on location using conventional materials, equipment and techniques, associated industries, as well as local workers in the surrounding town or city,’ they write.

‘Each location will benefit significantly from the creation of professional manufacturing, construction and transportation jobs, in addition to having a high efficiency energy resource close by – providing clean renewable energy at a cost more favourable than nuclear plants with no negative impacts to the environment.’

At peak operation, during a particularly sunny day, the tower can apparently produce 1,250 megawatts per hour – roughly equivalent to the power output of wind turbines spread over 100,000 acres and about the same as the Hoover Dam in Nevada (pictured)

Comments (141)

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Bill255,

Bristol, United Kingdom,

1 day ago

My question is; can sea water be used? The reason is obvious, economic and plentiful.

Asa,

Brisbane, Australia,

17 hours ago

Not in Arizona

Bill255,

Bristol, United Kingdom,

1 day ago

My question is; can sea water be used? The reason is obvious, economic and unlimited in supply.

dawman,

Winchester, United Kingdom,

1 day ago

Typical DM hype and misunderstanding. The net power output is only 500 mWh dropping to 435 mWh during the winter. Those are figures available from the web. Also, I reckon it would only need about 200 to 250 wind turbines for an equivalent output (certainly not 100,000 mentioned in the headline). That would require about 25,000 acres. I also reckon it would be about the same cost as the wind turbines. As for where the water supply would come from, that’s anyone’s guess!

salerio,

horsham,

1 day ago

No, its net power output is 500MW (megawatts), not 500 milliwatt hours.

RHill,

Edinburgh, United Kingdom,

1 day ago

If you look on this companies web site it has nothing to do with tornadoes or any type of swirling vortex at all. The only input the sun has is that the air on the outside of the tower is warmer than the air inside. It can only be that the weight of the moist cooled air which is falling down the tube is far greater than the weight of the water which is pumped to the top to effect the cooling.

John,

Taunton,

1 day ago

Don’t forget the additional mass due to the increased density of air at the lower temperature. It also relies on cold water to cool the air so it cannot be an enclosed water circuit.

deep in the woods,

Hampshire, United Kingdom,

1 day ago

Where and how much water does thing consume? What is the energy required to pump this water to the top?

salerio,

horsham,

1 day ago

It need a lot of water. Around 40 to 50 of its total output is needed to pump the water. That still leaves around 500MW net output though

Garrick S.,

Eugene,

1 day ago

There are a lot of inventors here making comments. Inventing reasons, based on conjecture about why such a thing wouldn’t work so don’t bother. In 50,000 or so years of human existence, only in the last 400 years or so has scientific knowledge been able to bulldoze through the negativity of these inventive naysayers and achieve progress for the human race.

John,

Taunton,

1 day ago

Well if the Government had listened to some of your so-called ‘naysayers’ then the countryside wouldn’t be covered with wind turbines. They are inefficient, unreliable, conditions dependent and expensive. This is why they have to be subsidised by tax payers money. The Government bounced this subsidy back onto the energy companies along with the subsidies for solar cell technology on houses. This caused the energy companies to hike up costs and increase our cost of living. No Garrick S, I will listen to the naysayers, especially when they have a PhD in a Physics related research area, like myself. The fact that you¿ve been successfully green arrowed explains why the country has a serious energy problem on the horizon. Nobody listens to the experts anymore, everyone is an expert now….

casey207,

Maine, United States,

1 day ago

I would think subsidizing solar panels on everyone’s roof that have a good exposure would be far more cost effective than building all these “towers of power” .

John,

Taunton,

1 day ago

30 year payback though.

null,

1 day ago

Don’t work at night though matey.

casey207,

Maine, United States,

1 day ago

They should just subsidize solar panels on everyone’s roof that has a good exposure…then link these all together. I would think that would be cheaper than all the “tower’s of power” they keep wanting to build.

Evangeline,

Ohio, United States,

1 day ago

Building something like this that needs water-in the middle of the desert???!!!

Max Nex,

Lugano, Switzerland,

1 day ago

The actual physics of this tells me that it will not work, the actual cost of building this tells me that it will not be economical.

The Seer,

Stone Ridge,

1 day ago

But this what the civilizations on Venus use to generate their power. I saw it on an Area 51 documentary.

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