Giant Solar Chimney to Power Australian Homes

World's tallest structure would power 200,000 homes using solar thermal energy.

Published: 05-Jan-2003

lass=articleBody>[Sunday, January 05, 2003] The world's tallest structure could soon be a giant solar power plant in the middle of the Australian outback.

The tower will be a solar chimney invented by German structural engineers Schlaich Bergermann and Partner.

In solar chimneys, air is heated by sunlight under a glass roof that's open at the circumference. This causes an updraft that drives turbines. Tight, water-filled tubes under the roof absorb heat in the daytime and release it at night, allowing for 24-hour power generation.

Schlaich Bergermann and Partner demonstrated a 200-metre-high (about 650-foot-high) model in Manzanares, Spain, in 1982.

At a proposed height of one kilometre (3,300 feet), the Australian tower would be more than twice the height of the CN Tower in Toronto, the world's current tallest structure.

Australian power company Enviromission plans to build the tower in the remote Buronga district in New South Wales.

With its size, the tower could provide electricity for 200,000 homes and prevent the emission of more than 700,000 tons of greenhouse gases that would come from using coal- or oil-fired power stations to produce the same amount of energy.

The project will cost about one billion Australian dollars (about US$500 million).

It already has the support of the Australian government and could be completed by 2006.

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