Environment Technology

This Strange Solar Wind Tower Generates 435 Megawatts. Almost As Much As A Small Nuclear Plant.

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A solar-wind tower projected to reach 2,250 feet, which is considerably taller than other American landmarks like the 1,454-foot Empire State Building is scheduled to start construction soon. Designed by Maryland-based Solar Wind Energy Tower Inc., the solar-wind hybrid facility just secured funding to build its first model, which is projected to stand near San Luis, Ariz., by 2018.

What is a solar wind tower: It is a network of sprayers that emits a fine mist of water droplets over the upper lip of the structure; the mist subsequently evaporates, absorbing the ambient heat of the surrounding atmosphere (that’s the solar component). The result is dense, cool air that rapidly flows to the bottom of the structure. The air reaches up to 50 mph by the time it hits the bottom, where it is diverted outwards through a series of tunnels radiating from the inside of the tube. Those tunnels hold giant wind turbines capable of generating a lot of electricity.

During July and August, the tower would be capable generate up to 1,200 megawatt-hours. However, they believe it will only produce 435 megawatt-hours in an average month. For comparison, the largest nuclear plant in the country, at Palo Verde, Ariz., generates some 3,937 megawatt-hours, while the smallest, at Fort Calhoun, Neb., produces about 502 megawatt-hours.

Solar Wind Energy says it is exploring sites in Mexico, the Middle East, Chile and India.

Bold projects like the solar-wind tower could demonstrate that alternate energy sources are viable and well worth investing in, even at a .5 billion price point, spurring technological innovation and the development of new economic sectors.


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“This Strange Solar Wind Tower Generates 435 Megawatts. Almost As Much As A Small Nuclear Plant.”