Solar Tower FAQ's

What is Solar Tower renewable energy technology?

Solar Tower technology is a renewable energy power station technology that generates clean green sustainable electricity from the heat of the sun. Passive and non-polluting, the technology does not need water at any stage of the electricity generation process (unlike coal, nuclear, some gas and solar technologies).

Research and engineering modelling indicates a Solar Tower power station will operate efficiently for more than 50 years with a life cycle analysis (LCA) of approximately 2.5 years; LCA is the amount of time of clean operation needed to equalise the pollution associated with the manufacture and construction process, for example the carbon pollution resulting from the manufacture and transport of concrete.

How does Solar Tower technology work?

The Tower.

The Tower is the thermal engine of the Solar Tower technology. In it, heat is transformed into mechanical energy. The updraft inside the tower, produced by the rising lighter, hot air, is essential for this. The greater the volume of hot air and velocity in the Tower, the stronger the updraft. Therefore, a high-capacity power plant should have a high volume of hot air and a high temperature differential between the base and top of the tower.

The Canopy

The canopy converts a large percentage of the insulation into heat, which in turn, heats the air trapped under the canopy roof or is stored in the ground soil thermal storage system. One of the main objectives of the canopy is to lose as little heat as possible into the ambient.

The Turbines

The Turbines transform the energy from the heat and pressure of the air into mechanical energy and the generator converts it into electricity. They work like the well known Kaplan Turbines used in hydro- electric power stations.

Can a Solar Tower operate on a cloudy day?

Solar Tower technology is designed to operate 365 days a year in all weather including cloudy or wet days – a Solar Tower does operate in diffused sunlight.

Radiant heat (not sunshine) from the sun is the critical energy source for Solar Tower technology, radiant heat will heat the air under a Solar Tower canopy in the same way the air inside a greenhouse or hothouse is always higher than the ambient external temperature due to the use of radiant heat.

Air under the Solar Tower canopy will always have a higher temperature than the ambient external temperature - even on cloudy days. The design of a Solar Tower's canopy will direct air flow to the central highest point where the hot air will pass through electricity generating turbines as it is constantly drawn up the tall hollow tower into the external cooler ambient (chimney effect) air.

The design of the canopy - rising to a central high point just above the turbines - will result in a constant hot wind (hotter than the air outside the Solar Tower) to flow towards and through the turbines as the hot air is drawn up the tall hollow tower into the constantly cooler air at the tower's opening (chimney effect) to cause the generation of electricity.

What are the dimensions and footprint of a Solar Tower power station?

Solar Tower power station dimensions and footprint are both demand and site specific. The power generated is determined by the physics of collector area and tower height, and can be tailored for individual site and power profile requirements.
 

What will set a Solar Tower apart from other renewable energy technologies?

Soalr tower technology is superior to all other renewable energy technologies:

  • 100% Clean Green Energy Generation 
  • Zero Water Use 
  • Zero Emissions 
  • Zero Pollution 
  • Reliable & Sustainable Energy Generation 
  • Large Construction team - Green Jobs - Shovel ready 
  • High Capacity Factor 
  • Low Operating Costs 
  • Cost Competitive 
  • Tailored to meet demand profile (peak or base load) 
  • Efficient use of Infrastructure 
  • Site Flexibility 
  • Heat storage availability 
  • Exceptional Carbon Credit generation 
  • Wildlife Friendly

 

What is a capacity factor?

The Capacity Factor of a power plant is the ratio of the actual output of the power plant over a period of time and its output if it had operated at full “Nameplate or Installed Capacity” the entire time.  

Reasons for the capacity factor to be below the nameplate capacity are:  
  1. The plant is out of service or operating at reduced output for maintenance or reliability reasons.
  2. Lack of demand for power during off peak times, when generation might be higher than needed. 
  3. In the case of Renewable Energy, the fuel source such as wind, sun or water is unavailable. 
Wind farms for example are highly intermittent producers of power due to the natural variability of wind.  Typical Capacity Factor examples are:  
  • *1. Wind 20/40% 
  • *2. Photovoltaic (Arizona) 19% 
  • *3. Solar Troughs 15% 
  • *4. Coal – Base-load 70%+ 
  • *5. Nuclear 80%+ 
  • 6. Solar Tower modelled at 50%+ 
(* Wikipedia August 14, 2009) 
 

What are Carbon Credits?

Carbon credits are a key component of national and international attempts to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs). One Carbon Credit is equal to one ton of Carbon.

Carbon trading is an application of an emissions trading approach. Greenhouse gas emissions are capped and then markets are used to allocate the emissions among the group of regulated sources. The idea is to allow market mechanisms to drive industrial and commercial processes in the direction of low emissions or less "carbon intensive" approaches than are used when there is no cost to emitting carbon dioxide and other GHGs into the atmosphere.

Since GHG mitigation projects generate credits, this approach can be used to finance carbon reduction schemes between trading partners and around the world.

(Wikipedia August14, 2009)

How many Carbon Credits will a Solar Tower power plant generate?

The number of Carbon Credits generated by a single Solar Tower Power Plant will depend on the actual output of the plant over a year of production.

If it is assumed a Solar Tower Power Plant will generate 1,000,000 MW (1,000 GW) on a per annum basis and the energy production pollution ratio (the pollution status of existing electricity generation) being applied is 1kg of GHG per KW the Solar Tower would produce 1,000,000 Carbon Credits each year.

How long will a Solar Tower take to build?

The construction time to build a 200MW Solar Tower is approximately 2 years.

Why has a Solar Tower not been built before?

  • Solar tower technology and design is improving through research and small scale testing
  • The view of environmental importance  is still increasing
  • Government commitments to greenhouse gas reductions are more serious
  • Political will and social will now more on same page 
  • Engineering can now deliver Tower heights at a economic cost.
  • Coal centric governments and policy lessening
  • Carbon producing energy providers and solar tower becoming more on level playing field 
  • Carbon being recognised as a cost 
  • Flexibility of both scale and output now available 
  • Triple bottom line accounting now recognised 
(That is taking into account the social and environmental impact of the technology)