18 May 2005

Evidently size does not matter as much

Changes to cut giant solar tower's height
Planned modifications to a proposed green energy solar tower in north-western Victoria might mean the tower will no longer be the world's tallest man-made structure.

The tower - to be built north of Mildura - was to have been one kilometre high, producing enough green energy to power up to 200,000 households.

Enviromission chief executive Roger Davey says two new technologies may mean the tower could be made smaller, but perform better in terms of energy production and economics.

EnviroMission Solar Tower
There’s a joke to be made about giant phallic symbols built on Australian sheep farms, but not before my coffee. The 3,280-foot tall solar tower idea first tossed around a few years ago is on it’s way to actually happening, now that land in the Australian outback has been secured. When finished, the tower will effectively work like a chimney, collecting solar energy to warm air that then rises at speeds of thirty-five mph to spin a series of turbines that generate electricity. So, kind of like a wind farm without the need for consistently good kite weather.

Fortunately for my shattered sense of national ego, RMIT has a fairly cool description of the project:

The Solar Tower concept operates on a simple rule of physics - hot air rises.

An ever present large mass of air under an expansive transparent collector (seven kilometres in diameter) is heated by solar radiation (greenhouse effect) providing a continuous flow of hot air to drive electricity generating turbines located around the base of the one-kilometre tall central tower.

EnviroMission owns the exclusive licence to German designed Solar Tower technology in Australia. The Company's first project will focus on developing this revolutionary technology into the world's first large-scale solar thermal power station.

Solar Tower technology is one of the most exciting renewable energy innovations proposed for development in Australia. Development will lead the way to a renewable energy solution that will deliver positive social, environmental and economic outcomes.

And if I never read another news item headed 'Tower of Power' it will be far too soon.

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