EnviroMission’s unique solar energy generation technology is picking up steam and the Middle East will be one of the first regions to give the technology a fair chance to succeed.
The company has reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Middle East developer to install their solar updraft towers in multiple locations, Recharge News reports.
The developer remains unnamed, but an initial $1.5 million will get the project started, and EnviroMission will retain exclusive regional development rights in the Middle East.
“This partnership has the potential to redefine the common perception of renewable energy and the way it is delivered — it is the intent to provide base-load, predictable, non- intermittent clean power, in a first for the Middle East,” said chief executive Roger Davey.
Solar updraft towers are unlike other concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies.
Instead of having mirrors reflect sunlight onto the tower, a large greenhouse-type disc or canopy at the base of the tower collects thermal energy, which is then funneled through the tower, where it is converted from heat into mechanical energy with standard Kaplan Turbines.
“The updraft inside the tower, produced by the rising lighter, hot air, is essential for this,” writes EnviroMission.
The greater the velocity the tower, the higher the column of air, and the stronger the updraft. Which means that high capacity plants will have massive towers.
In the United States, EnviroMission is working on a 200MW plant, which will provide enough electricity to power around 100,000 households, similar to the number of homes in a city the size of Burbank (California, USA) or Palm Bay (Florida, USA).
The energy output will represent an annual saving of more than 900,000 tonnes of greenhouse CO2 gases from entering the environment.
A plant this size comprises a “spoked wheel” air collector measuring 3.2km across, topped by a 100 meter wide, 750 meter tall tower, which, as Recharge points out, is only slightly smaller than the 828 meter tall Burj Khalifa.
This technology has yet to be developed on such a large scale because it requires an enormous upfront investment risk, which Gulf countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can afford better than most nations.
That being said, once the plant has been built, maintenance costs are said to be lower than a comparable facility.