Solar Chimney Power Station
Solar Chimney Power Station
Schematic diagram of a solar chimney power station.

Solar chimney power stations can function because warm air rises. Air underneath a glass ceiling is heated by Solar Radiation so that it rises through a chimney. To replace the air which has just risen, air from the edge of the glass ceiling flows inward, and will then itself begin to heat up. In this way the sun’s heat radiation is converted into kinetic energy, or a ‘motor’ of constantly rising air. A turbine built into the chimney then converts the wind power by means of a Generator into electrical energy.

This ingenious yet simple design was conceived of by Jörg Schlaich, professor at the Institute for Construction and Design (Institut für Konstruktion und Entwurf) of the University of Stuttgart. A prototype in Manzanares, south of Madrid, delivered power practically uninterrupted from the middle of 1986 until the beginning of 1989 with a Peak Output of 50 kW. Its collector had a diameter of 240 meters while the chimney had a diameter of 10 meters and was 195 meters tall. Economical and profitable systems with a kilowatt-hour price of $ 0.09--0.13 are only possible on a large scale.

Solar chimney power stations could make important contributions to the energy supplies in Africa and Asia because more than enough space and sunlight are available there. Although countries such as Sudan, India and Ghana have shown real interest in the technology, all construction plans in these third world countries have not come into fruition due to exorbitant costs.

Further information

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