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Energy solar heat  play between mirrors and a tower | Upload Solar

Solar Heat: Play Between Mirrors And A Tower

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by: Sharai Hoekema
solar heat  play between mirrors and a tower | Upload

Capturing sunlight is becoming quite a valuable business. Farmers have dedicated large parts of their land to solar panels instead of cows or crops. Harnessing and selling solar energy is decidedly better, not only from a sustainability point of view, but also considering the payback. 

Tower Generating Massive Amounts Of Solar Energy

As there is only so many surface area that solar panels, their generators and batteries can be placed on, it was a matter of time before some wise person invented a way of minimising the actual square footage required for the maximum amount of solar panels. Insert a magnificent new invention, straight out of any sci-fi movie: the solar tower.

solar tower, mirrors, desert
Solar towers Seville, Spain

The solar tower, more commonly known as a solar power tower, encompasses the strength of solar energy in one tower structure to generate massive amounts of electricity. It also involves the use of movable mirrors, or heliostats, which are laid out in a field to gather sunlight and re-direct those beams towards the tower - soaking up all the precious rays.

Effectively, the solar tower collects the solar energy generated by all those movable mirrors placed around it. These mirrors do not require a lot of space, making it highly effective. They are computer-controlled, tracking the position of the sun on two axes. Over the course of the day, it gets the light just right and tilts the mirror the exact right way to aim it at a receiver at the top of the tower. 

solar tower, mirror, sun graph

From Water Towers To Liquid Salt Towers

The earliest versions of the tower used the heat from those rays to warm up water. The steam resulting from this process powered a turbine, resulting in electricity. In later versions of the tower, the water was replaced by liquid salts. It was found that the heat capacity of those salts is higher than that of water. This increases efficiency and allows for storage, which means that power can even be generated on cloudy days. 

So, in a nutshell, the tower functions as a hub that receives and transforms solar energy. Coupled with the capacity of some kind of battery or other energy storing device, this means that a solar tower can produce energy 24/7. It effectively created a way of overcoming one of the major problems associated with solar energy - its lack of continuity when the sun stops shining.


                                         Heliostat - The Solar Power Of The Future | How Cities Work | Spark

Cleaner Than Most Alternatives

This is not the only advantage of solar towers. Compared to other forms of generating energy, including the polluting coal plants or natural gas solutions, solar towers are very clean. They do not result in any air pollution, water pollution, nor do they create any greenhouse gases. Not directly, anyway - the production and installation of a solar tower does result in some pollution, but its operation is much cleaner than its alternatives.

Recommended: Solar Powered Sea Slugs Shed Light On Perpetual Green Energy

Toxic, Water Intensive And Bird And Insect Killing

There are also downsides. First, there are some pretty toxic materials used in the construction of the tower - most notably photovoltaic cells. Second, the clearing of land to make space for the tower and its mirrors does result in the loss of habitat for animals and plants. 

Third, they require quite a bit of water for its operation, which could be problematic for those living around it if it happens to be scarce. Fourth, creating energy through solar towers ranks at the top of the list of bird- and insect unfriendly methods. If a bird or insect flies through the beam transmitted to the tower, it will be burned and killed. 

Recommended: Amazon Water War: Fires, Hydro Dams, Climate Change S.O.S.

Mohave Desert As The Playground

Despite these disadvantages, there have already been quite a few of those big boys installed around the world. The very first one was built in the Mohave Desert, in an area used as a playground for this innovation - as it also housed the second and third, each slightly more efficient and better than its predecessor.

At this time, there are a grand total of 54 solar towers operating around the world. The majority of those are located in China, Spain, South Africa and the United States, with the remainder in Morocco, India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. China has announced a dozen more, that will become operational in the next decade or so. Quite a few countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa are building or planning as well.

Not a coincidence: the ideal location for solar towers is one that is flat, dry, and not too windy. There must be some water supplies nearby, while rain or snow are to be avoided at all costs. A large number of sun hours and minimal cloud cover are desirable as well. In essence, this describes a desert or desert-like area, which explains the above mentioned locations.

Great Alternative For Solar Fields

The solar tower is a great alternative for ‘regular’ solar panel fields, with its generation of continuous and clean energy. The downsides can be mitigated, except for one - the pretty stringent environment requirements. Although it is good to see that the countries that are lucky enough to possess areas suitable for this use are making good use of it.

Before you go!

Recommended: Gravitricity: Key Energy Storage Or Too Good To Be True?

Do you like this article about Gravitricity or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day.

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Click on 'Register' or push the button 'Write An Article' on the 'HomePage'

Jon - 6 WEEKS AGO
Post Reported Report Post
Your Comment is Under Moderation
Why does it use water? Can't this be a closed loop? Thanks.
Reply

Solar Heat: Play Between Mirrors And A Tower

Capturing sunlight is becoming quite a valuable business. Farmers have dedicated large parts of their land to solar panels instead of cows or crops. Harnessing and selling solar energy is decidedly better, not only from a sustainability point of view, but also considering the payback.   Tower Generating Massive Amounts Of Solar Energy As there is only so many surface area that solar panels, their generators and batteries can be placed on, it was a matter of time before some wise person invented a way of minimising the actual square footage required for the maximum amount of solar panels. Insert a magnificent new invention, straight out of any sci-fi movie: the solar tower. Solar towers Seville, Spain The solar tower, more commonly known as a solar power tower, encompasses the strength of solar energy in one tower structure to generate massive amounts of electricity. It also involves the use of movable mirrors, or heliostats, which are laid out in a field to gather sunlight and re-direct those beams towards the tower - soaking up all the precious rays. Effectively, the solar tower collects the solar energy generated by all those movable mirrors placed around it. These mirrors do not require a lot of space, making it highly effective. They are computer-controlled, tracking the position of the sun on two axes. Over the course of the day, it gets the light just right and tilts the mirror the exact right way to aim it at a receiver at the top of the tower.   From Water Towers To Liquid Salt Towers The earliest versions of the tower used the heat from those rays to warm up water. The steam resulting from this process powered a turbine, resulting in electricity. In later versions of the tower, the water was replaced by liquid salts. It was found that the heat capacity of those salts is higher than that of water. This increases efficiency and allows for storage, which means that power can even be generated on cloudy days.   So, in a nutshell, the tower functions as a hub that receives and transforms solar energy. Coupled with the capacity of some kind of battery or other energy storing device, this means that a solar tower can produce energy 24/7. It effectively created a way of overcoming one of the major problems associated with solar energy - its lack of continuity when the sun stops shining. {youtube}                                           Heliostat - The Solar Power Of The Future | How Cities Work | Spark Cleaner Than Most Alternatives This is not the only advantage of solar towers. Compared to other forms of generating energy, including the polluting coal plants or natural gas solutions, solar towers are very clean. They do not result in any air pollution, water pollution, nor do they create any greenhouse gases. Not directly, anyway - the production and installation of a solar tower does result in some pollution, but its operation is much cleaner than its alternatives. Recommended:  Solar Powered Sea Slugs Shed Light On Perpetual Green Energy Toxic, Water Intensive And Bird And Insect Killing There are also downsides. First, there are some pretty toxic materials used in the construction of the tower - most notably photovoltaic cells. Second, the clearing of land to make space for the tower and its mirrors does result in the loss of habitat for animals and plants.   Third, they require quite a bit of water for its operation, which could be problematic for those living around it if it happens to be scarce. Fourth, creating energy through solar towers ranks at the top of the list of bird- and insect unfriendly methods. If a bird or insect flies through the beam transmitted to the tower, it will be burned and killed.   Recommended:  Amazon Water War: Fires, Hydro Dams, Climate Change S.O.S. Mohave Desert As The Playground Despite these disadvantages, there have already been quite a few of those big boys installed around the world. The very first one was built in the Mohave Desert, in an area used as a playground for this innovation - as it also housed the second and third, each slightly more efficient and better than its predecessor. At this time, there are a grand total of 54 solar towers operating around the world. The majority of those are located in China, Spain, South Africa and the United States, with the remainder in Morocco, India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. China has announced a dozen more, that will become operational in the next decade or so. Quite a few countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa are building or planning as well. Not a coincidence: the ideal location for solar towers is one that is flat, dry, and not too windy. There must be some water supplies nearby, while rain or snow are to be avoided at all costs. A large number of sun hours and minimal cloud cover are desirable as well. In essence, this describes a desert or desert-like area, which explains the above mentioned locations. Great Alternative For Solar Fields The solar tower is a great alternative for ‘regular’ solar panel fields, with its generation of continuous and clean energy. The downsides can be mitigated, except for one - the pretty stringent environment requirements. Although it is good to see that the countries that are lucky enough to possess areas suitable for this use are making good use of it. Before you go! Recommended:  Gravitricity: Key Energy Storage Or Too Good To Be True? Do you like this article about Gravitricity or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write and publish your own article about renwable energy? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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