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A 2,250-Foot Tall Tower in Arizona Will Usher in the Future of Wind Energy

Set to be completed in 2018, it would be the tallest freestanding structure in the US.
Image: Solar Wind Energy

From Motherboard Germany:

Wind and solar energy only provide us with power as nature allows, but solar-wind hybrid towers could soon overcome this limitation. The company Solar Wind Energy, based in Maryland, has now received the necessary startup capital for the construction of a 2,250-foot-high tower in Arizona, which would be the tallest freestanding structure in the US.

The idea for solar-wind-towers goes back to a patent from 1975 by Dr. Phillip Carlson, then at Lockheed Aircraft Corp., and the concept was brilliantly illustrated in Popular Science in 1981.


The concept is simple. A mist of water droplets is sprayed over the opening of the tower. The fog evaporates and absorbs the heat of the surrounding air. The denser cooled air then falls to the bottom, and that wind speed can get up to 50 miles per hour. At the base of the tower the horizontal downdraft is diverted through the wind turbines, which then generate electricity.

Image: Solar Wind Energy

The advantage of this method is that the downdraft can be produced around the clock, as long as the air is warm and dry enough. For this reason, the first tower will be built near San Luis, Arizona, planned for 2018.

The overall cost of the plant is estimated at around $1.6 billion. The company received $1.6 million in this latest funding round, and hopes the company's rising stock value and the project's impressive "simplicity of the principle" will continue to interest investors.

In a promotional video, Solar Wind Energy promises CO2-free power production around the clock, throughout the whole year. It will generate an average of 435 megawatts, coming close to that of the smallest nuclear power plant in the US, which averages 502 megawatts.

Correction 6/24: An earlier version of this post inaccurately reported the location of the tower as San Luis, New Mexico. The correct location is San Luis, Arizona. We regret the error.