In the June 2013 issue of Popular Science, Solar Wind Energy's downdraft tower is described by CEO Ron Pickett as "capturing the last 2,000 feet of a thunderstorm". It goes on to talk about how the system is designed to produce over a gigawatt of power on the hottest driest summer days at its proposed Arizona site, while costing less than a tenth of what it costs to build a nuclear power plant. It's another example of the growing attention the Solar Wind concept is getting, attracting interest because of its unique efficiencies and benefits, as well as its conceptual simplicity.
Solar Wind Energy's plans call for a massive concrete tower, encompassing a large airspace. Water is rapidly injected into the enclosed hot dry dessert air mass through specially designed sprayers, although it doesn't actually have to be all that hot or all that dry to still function. As the air picks up the moisture, it instantly cools, becoming dense and heavy. The resulting downdraft draws in more desert air, and the process accelerates. Soon there's a continuous massive downflow of air, approaching speeds of 50 mph or more. The tower has essentially used water to turn the heat energy of the desert air into motion. The fast moving air is then diverted to turbines that convert all of that wind into electricity, at an estimated overall cost of roughly half that of other alternative energy systems.
The current calculations take into consideration all of the needed resource and operational costs, such as the recycled water, and assume a conservative operating level of 60% of capacity, reflecting the changing temperature and humidity conditions throughout the day and year. It's a system that can always be "on," generating electricity day or night, in any season, regardless of wind. As such, it represents a major new entry in the alternative energy industry.
For information on Solar Wind Energy visit cleanwindenergytower.com
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