Does anyone know what a downdraft energy tower is? I thought so…Well, no worries, because you’re about to see one at the US-Mexican border area in Arizona’s San Luis. Maybe it won’t impress you by its looks, but if the zonal approval goes through, it sure will by its capacities.
The challenge of a construction this size – 3,000 feet – is that it combines wind turbines and sun-heated air, but in a “harmless” way: it has to be careful not to soak up on the water reserves of the region. Wait! Why does it need so much water? Because the heated air needs to be sprayed at the top, so it can become dense and heavy and come down through the hollowness. Only then is the air in the right conditions to push the wind turbines and produce electricity all the way.
This idea is far from new: Phillip Carlson first came up with it in the ’70s, but it’s the Dr Ramu Guetta-Prof Dan Zaslavsky duo from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology that took it up and tried to put it into practice. The company making it all happen is called Clean Wind Energy Tower, Inc (CWET) and it seems “ambitious” is the best word to describe it, since it plans to make two such structures see the light of day.
If the plan goes through, then local people will stand to pay between 1 and 4 cents per kWh for their clean-sourced electricity. We, on the other hand, will probably have a go at it later, but it’s better to enjoy it later than never, right?