Professor Dan Zaslavsky and Dr. Rami Guetta from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are trying to develop an idea first patented by Phillip R. Carlson in 1975. In what is known as a downdraft energy tower, water is sprayed onto solar heated air at the top of a hollow tower. Now cooled and denser, this air falls rapidly to the bottom of the tower where it drives turbines and generates electricity. Annapolis Maryland – based Clean Wind Energy Tower, Inc (CWET) has plans to build two such towers near the US – Mexican border in San Luis, Arizona. At 3000 feet, the tower’s height will surpass Burj Khalifa, but unlike most skyscrapers, this one is designed to give more than it takes, in the form of clean electricity.
Downdraft energy towers…an idea so bold, so fantastic, so crazy…
There are significant technical challenges to building any 3000 foot high structure, much more so when the tower contains an artificial thundercloud and generates electricity. Evaporative-cooled downdraft towers such as this require a very dry climate.
The deserts of the US southwest, the Mideast and North Africa seem ideal for this, but that cooling water has to come from somewhere. So designers have proposed that saltwater should be used to cool the air.
The side benefit is that this could become part of a desalination system, the downside is corrosion of turbines and structural components.
Another problem is that it takes energy to pump water 3000 feet into the air, about a kilowatt-hour for every 1000 liters pumped. To compensate for this loss, Zaslavsky and Guetta proposed to install vertical wind turbines into the walls of the tower. Their models show that it should be possible to generate electricity for between one and four cents per kilowatt-hour.
Energy Towers might just work
Of course there must be careful planning of water usage, environmental impact, distance from energy consumers, cradle-to cradle carbon footprint.
As Green Prophet’s Tafline Laylin pointed out, Israel is a world leader in producing green technology which is used everywhere except Israel. So if this bold Mideastern idea comes to fruition, San Luis, Arizona USA will have bragging rights.
Clean Wind Energy Towers, Inc already received approval to lease land for this project and began seeking zoning approval a few days ago. But in the strange world of business economics, their progress was taken as bad news and CWET shares plummeted.
Clearly this project is not for the faint of heart but hey– the US is a country which sent men to the moon. This is a country which boldly flings hundred billion dollar bailouts in the same way circus clowns toss candy.
Just a stone’s throw from the tower’s proposed site in San Luis is a three layer 18-foot high stretch of
wall fence which extends for 87 miles to the west and 379 miles to the east.
This is a nearly completed portion of a $6 billion wall which is designed to protect this bold country from stone-throwing Mexican teenagers. Nevermind the fact that teenagers can climb it in 20 seconds, assuming an average height of 3 meters over its length gives an area of approximately 2 million square meters for the San Luis section of wall.
So if Mexican teenagers glued solar panels onto their side, the wall would generate about 600 Megawatts of electricity. The panels would cost $500 million at Chinese “dumped” photovoltaic prices, a fraction of what the US paid for that ungreen concrete and steel wall and probably less than the stock market dips every time Ben Bernanke blows his nose.
Even if it never generates as much electricity as Mexico’s photovoltaic border wall would, this 3000 foot high energy tower is already a success. It helps us think outside of the