The basic idea behind a SolarTower has been understood for many years, but it now looks like they are about to happen and produce significant amounts of Energy.

Essentially, what you do is build a very large greenhouse. You then put a large chimney in the middle of this. As with the greenhouse, the larger the better. Finally, you put one (or more) WindTurbines into the chimney.

The upshot of all this is that air heats up in the greenhouse. This, then, tries to rise, and natually goes up the chimney. As the chimney is very tall, the air at the top is potentially fairly cold, so you can get fairly high speeds and, of course, if the greenhouse is large enough very large volumes.

The problem with SolarTowers is that they have very large capital cost, although NuclearPower plant is not exactly cheap either. Once they have been built, however, they should cost very little to upkeep, particular if you put them into a desert. This way the greenhouse should stay clean.

My own feeling is that you could some quite cute things with SolarTowers to make them produce even more energy, or produce other useful resources.

For example, imagine that you pipe in sea water and install a few ponds under the greenhouse. The combination of heat and air movement should make the sea water evaporate quite quickly. The air going up the chimney would then be much more humid than otherwise. As it goes up the chimney the temperature drops, particular at the walls of the chimney which should be the coolest. The water condenses and you have instant desalinated, distilled water flowing down the inside walls, which you can easily collect. Very useful in a desert. You could take this idea to further extremes with a WaterSolarTower.

Once you have fresh water, you can also grow plants under the greenhouse. This might disrupt the efficiency of the chimney, by disrupting the air flow. However at the edges of the greenhouse, I would guess that the flow is not going to be too fast, just high volume, so the effect would be minimal. Alternatively, you could use a AlgaeRadiator, the outside of which would be smooth. You now have a BioFuel source as well.

Thinking about this, I think that the PhotoSynthesis is actually using the same EnergySource as the SolarTower. However, no plant is 100% efficient; they also respire which itself produces heat, so I don't think it should reduce the efficiency of the SolarTower highly; I am not using the same Energy twice with this system.

Updated: 06-05-08
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