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Saturday, January 04, 2003

A revolutionary renewable energy project in Australia plans to use the sun’s radiation to heat a large body of air, which is then forced by the laws of physics (hot air rises) to move as a hot wind through large turbines to generate electricity.

A solar thermal power station using Solar Tower technology will create the conditions to cause hot wind to flow continuously through its turbines to generate electricity with one 200MW power station will provide enough electricity to around 200,000 typical Australian homes and will abate over 900,000 tonnes of greenhouse producing gases from entering the environment annually.

The tower complex planned for Australia will cost approximately $700 million and the tower itself will be one kilometre high - the tallest man-made structure on Earth - while the accompanying 'green house' will have a radius of 3.5 kilometres, cover about 10,000 hectares and require 38 million square metres of covering.

Unlike other solar projects, it will even be possible to continue generating power at night due to the considerable temperature difference between the warm ground and the much cooler air at the chimney's mouth generating a continous draft...

Solar Tower technology has been tested and proven with a successful pilot plant constructed in Manzanares, Spain. The pilot project was the result of collaboration between the Spanish Government and the German designers, Schlaich Bergermann and Partner. This plant operated for seven years between 1982 and 1989, and consistently generated 50kW output of green energy. The pilot plant conclusively proved the technology works and provided data for design modifications to achieve greater commercial and economic benefits associated with an increased scale of economy.

Australia was selected as the location for a full-scale solar thermal power station because it boasts the high solar radiation levels required to power a solar thermal power station, offers geological stability and low land costs with many suitable terrains.

A range of suitable high solar radiation sites are also located close to electricity grids necessary to transmit the peak electricity loads a solar thermal power station will produce and the country's high construction and operating standards will ensure the project meets stringent engineering requirements to successfully bring the project to the international market...

The chief downsides would appear to be the area of land built upon and perhaps alterations in the local weather?