In the Australian outback, a solar tower of power is getting ready to rise. EnviroMission Limited plans to build a gigantic solar power station, with a 1,000 meter chimney called a solar tower as the linchpin in their design. They hope to create a 200 megawatt power station with zero emissions.
The solar tower is exceedingly simple and based on an age old fact; hot air rises. An enormous cylindrical tower is built in a sunny location with an immense solar collector at its base. This skirt is a 25,000 acre translucent skirt which heats the air underneath it. The air is funneled into the solar tower, heat rises after all, and a series of wind turbines convert the constantly moving air into electricity. The hotter it gets, the faster the updraft and the more electricity produced. EnviroMission hopes to abate almost 900,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere annually.
The concept was tested over twenty years ago and found to be feasible but abandoned during the era of cheap oil. Now with oil solidly over $50 a barrel, the idea is suddenly attracting renewed interest. EnviroMission has purchased 25,000 acres of outback station, and construction of the solar tower is expected to commence in 2006.