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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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Solar Chimney

The "Solar Tower" will be a 200 megawatt electrical generating plant that gets its energy from harnessing the daily solar heating of the desert surface. This heat creates a self-contained wind field that drives a network of 32 turbines. The concept is marvelously simple, but is still an engineering challenge. The 3,000 foot tall "chimney" at the center will dwarf other buildings around the world, standing nearly twice as tall as "Taipei 101" in Taiwan. The glass-covered canopy surrounding the tower will be about four miles in diameter. A much smaller version of the Australian facility was built in Spain, and operated continuously between 1982 and 1989. Once built, the facility will continue to produce electricity indefinitely.
This is a very smart idea.

While it is handy to have the Outback to build this in the physics is all about a temperature gradient created by solar heating. In principle you could build one of these things anywhere there was an abundance of sunlight. And, as Roy Spencer points out in his article, there are likely some optimizations - putting black material under the glass for example - which might improve the efficiency and lower the cost of the instalation.