In a subtle twist on solar power Solar Wind Energy (SWE) of Maryland along with partners GE Energy and Whiting-Turner Contracting is planning a 500 megawatt (MW) facility using two giant hollow towers each rising 2,250 feet (686 meters) on the Arizona Mexico border; the structures would be the second tallest ever built. SWE is now negotiating for a lease from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a 1,700 acre plot of empty desert land adjacent to a U.S. bombing range.
Novel & Unproven Technology
The novel approach, intended for hot, dry climates, involves spraying water into a large hollow structure so that the uppermost air becomes humid, cool and heavy. The heavy air sinks and accelerates to speeds of 50 miles an hour before escaping at the base through 52 tunnels where the rushing air spins turbines to create electricity.
Advantages Over Solar & Wind
Advantages of the downdraft tower according to meteorologist George Elliott are: the tower can operate 24 seven and outperform solar collectors that can produce only when the sun is shining and wind turbines that produce only when the wind is blowing. The downdraft tower will use non-toxic natural elements to generate electricity combining heated dry air with water acting as a catalyst to create a powerful downdraft.
Planners for the project will pump water from the Sea of Cortez which is 48 miles south of the border.