Solar power and wind power are well-established forms of renewable energy; but how about solar wind power? A new prototype in the United States has just been green-lit and might well provide an exciting new way to produce energy in the future. One of the main qualms around many forms of renewable energy is the possibility of downtime; wind power supply being effected by still days, solar power’s limited output on grey winter days and tidal power not being as effective on still seasons in open water. The idea of a Solar Wind Power solution could aim to give a more consistent level of energy supply, without compromising on carbonisation or energy output, and tackles the problem in a previously-unheard of way.
A prototype has just been given the go-ahead in San Luis, Arizona that will harness the warm desert breeze and turn it into clean energy. Using a water at a very specific temperature at the top of a Solar Wind energy tower can cool the air passing over the top of it.
This causes a deceptively powerful downdraft, which is dragged by the shape of the tower into the turbines below; turning them and creating eco-friendly commercial power.
As deserts are hot and away from crowded areas, the advantage of a solution like this is simple; these towers can be built without disruption and can run all day and night for almost the whole year in any country with a desert.
The output of a plan like this will admittedly vary from day-to-day, however, the company behind the prototype says that on an ideal day each tower is capable of churning out 1,250 megawatts per hour; a truly exciting figure given that – even at less than half capacity, over 200Gw could be produced by a single tower every year.
Expected to be operational by 2018, Solar Wind Energy Towers are very much in the ‘untested’ category; however, such vast production potential could provide incredible growth in commercial energy production for countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Southern United States within our lifetime. Well worth keeping an eye on.