Global Warming Could Power the Future
Solar Tower Technology
Power for the future could rest with the invention of Solar Towers.
A solar tower is basically a large greenhouse surrounding the base of a tower. The air in the greenhouse heats up. As hot air rises, the hotter air is funneled into the chimney. As the air enters the chimney, it turns turbines generating power.
It combines solar energy and wind turbines, meaning it needs no fuel to produce the power. During daylight hours it provides power to a grid and also charges huge batteries that supply the grid during the night.
This solar tower technology would require minimal maintenance and a tower could last for decades.
In order for these towers to produce usable amounts of electricity they will have to be big.
A size that is being considered is a greenhouse 7 km in diameter. As the effectiveness of the system is increased with the height of the tower, a height of 1000 m is being considered.
For better efficiency, hot climates are preferable for the building of the towers. Due to their size, low cost land is also preferable. This has led to several countries proposing to build these towers in desert areas.
Spain built the first solar tower in 1982. As it was built for experimental purposes it was not very large. It did however operate until the tower was blown over in 1989.
The experimental tower supposedly blew down because metal guy ropes were used on the tower. These ropes, with time, rusted and eventually snapped.
Towers of various sizes are now either under construction or in the planning stages, in several countries: Spain, Mongolia, Botswana, Australia, Namibia, Turkey and the United States.
Possibly the most ambitious of these is the one in Namibia, which is to be 1.5 km high. The greenhouse would cover an area of 37 sq km, inside which cash crops can be grown.
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Although these solar towers may be expensive to build, one estimate being $750 million, at current electricity prices it is considered that a tower would pay for itself within a few short years.
The idea for solar towers was first put forward in 1903, by Isidoro Cabanyes of the Spanish Army. Again in 1931 by a German author Hanns Gunther. Yet it was 1975 before the idea was taken seriously.
Is it co-incidental that as global warming increases, so does the efficiency of solar towers.
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