Giant Solar Power Towers Sprout Like Weeds

The question might not be if an insanely tall solar updraft tower gets built, but whose insanely tall solar updraft tower gets built first. And where.

EnviroMission, the Australian company aiming to use the greenhouse effect and thermal dynamics to produce electricity in the Arizona desert, is apparently not alone in its ambition. Turns out another Australian concern is working to build a very similar power plant. The second team’s project is targeted for the outback of Western Australia, where a key function would be to provide power to the extensive mining industry in the area.

solar tower, australia,hyperion

image via Hyperion Energy

Hyperion Energy’s planned project was written up by local media in Perth, Australia, late last year, then was picked up in January on the Norway-based clean energy site Recharge, where we spotted it. At a glance it was clear the project is nearly the spittin’ image of the EnviroMission tower we reported on several weeks ago. In fact, the pair have a common lineage: the German engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann.

Both projects plan to use a vast canopy to trap and heat air that would have nowhere to go but up through a tower at the center of the canopy. Thirty-two turbines would capture the energy of the air as it is sucked into the tower, producing up to 200 megawatts of power.

In a promotional video, Hyperion says “Schalich Bergermann will design the project, supervise the construction and equipment installation and then commision the operation to guarantee the tower’s performance.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

Be first to comment