Wind is one of the many by-products of the sun heating the Earth’s surface unevenly. So, in a way, all wind energy is solar energy. Renewable energy developer Solar Wind Energy Tower has applied this principle to a new power system it calls the Solar Wind Downdraft Tower.
Unlike technologies dedicated to harnessing solar or wind energy, the Solar Wind Downdraft Tower is capable of generating power with prevailing wind or no wind, day or night, according to the company.
Here’s how it works: Pumps move water up to the top of the tower where the it is turned into a mist and sprayed into the open top. As the sun heats the mist, causing it to evaporate, the moisture is absorbed by the immediate atmosphere. The air becomes cooler and denser and drops through the tower’s cylinder. The company says, the dense air falls through the cylinder at speeds in excess of 50 mph. At the base of the tower, the air rushes through wind tunnels, which turn generators producing electricity.
In some areas where there is enough wind, vertical wind vanes can be added to the top of the tower to produce additional power. The company says that the tower operates with little to no carbon footprint, fuel consumption, or waste production.
With the development of its Global Energy Generation Calculator software, the company says it can make predictions about energy production at a proposed location. The tower’s height, diameter, and the amount of water required can be adjusted in order to achieve optimum generation.
Recent specifications from a design intended for a site in San Luis, Arizona indicate a gross production capacity of up to 1,250 megawatt-hours, says the company. The entire year’s average hourly output is estimated at 435 MWh/hour due to decreased generation capacity during winter months.
The company expects to construct towers on location using standard materials, methods, and local labor from surrounding communities, providing a two-fold benefit of jobs and clean energy. The company has released statements that suggest the Solar Wind Downdraft Tower’s real competitor is not solar or wind technologies, but nuclear plants, because of its supposed ability to generate power around the clock.
The company has filed numerous patent applications, and two have been awarded. Two other patents designated with “Notices of Allowance” are awaiting issuance of their documents. The company says it is optimistic that the tower will be generating power by end of 2018. WPE
Filed Under: News, Turbines
To me this concept makes no sense, as it needs dry and arid climate to work, and in such areas water (which is needed to create the downdraft) is normally at a premium. “Regular” wind turbines don’t consume water like other power plants (fossil fuel, nuclear) and are therefore saving a lot of the precious liquid – now with this technology we seem to go down memory lane again… what is the point here?
SheerWind’s similar concept at least doesn’t use water, but in my humble opinion both concepts will not bring the advertised advantages – I certainly will not consider buying stocks of either company 🙂
Allen Windhorn says
“As the sun heats the mist … the air becomes cooler” — why does this sound fishy? And water vapor is lighter than air, so it sinks? I think you won’t get back the energy you spend getting the water to the top, and the sun has nothing to do with it. To use solar energy, you would have to warm the water at the bottom, and let it rise. Of course, you can cool air by evaporation (swamp cooler), but you need low humidity like in the desert, and you would need a huge supply of water for this system.
What does “gross production capacity of up to 1,250 megawatt-hours” mean? After it generates that much you have to shut it down? Or is that per year or something? Why not say how much power it will generate?
I’ll think about buying stock once I see a working prototype.