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James May and the Solar Tower


[YouTube - Link]


Some of you Neatoramanauts out there seemed to have been tickled pink by the idea of melting steel with the Sun's rays. So, I thought it would be a great idea to show you another clip and this one is just as tantalizingly enjoyable to watch. Well, you can all thank Dale from the comments for pointing out to me this clip. So Dale...thank you. :)

What you see here is James May visiting the very first third working Solar Tower (of Doom!) based in southern Spain. The idea behind this structure is to use numerous mirrors to direct the Sun's rays into a specific point on the tower where pipes filled with water are heated and converted into steam thus generating a source of power. This system of generating power can be called Solar Thermal Energy production.

It's a highly intelligent and efficient form of producing renewable energy and it doesn't have - from what I understand - any environmental repercussions. It apparently works so well that the Spanish Government has decided to build a few more. I wonder what it would take to convince some of the nations in the Equatorial regions to build some of these types of structures and become suppliers of energy. It could provide jobs and bring in essential foreign investments thus boosting their economies.

*Update - Thanks for the heads up in the comments for the mistake. Indeed it is the THIRD solar tower project! ;)

It ends with "this would be so much more useful if there was a place where the sun always shone. And there is..."

Well? Where is it? Put the next episode up!
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Yes, where could that be? I hear days are pretty long in the arctic region (sunshine at midnight)... I would be happy with the name of the show, or a link!
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It's not the first. It's Solar III. Which would be the uhhh, third. You can check wikipedia for more info on it. It's the extension of the solar furnace work done at Sandia labs.
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the irony is that deserts are nice to prevent global warming. they reflect a LOT of light back into space. you turn the deserts into solar farms and suddenly you are capturing that heat instead of reflecting it... and then next thing you know the polar bears are drowning and Al Gore is making a sequel.
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Yeah My first tough was also space... but how do you transport the electricity back to earth? It's not like an extension cord would do the trick. Hm.
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I was in the Navarre Spain region earlier this year and it looked like I was in another world.
Let's just read the excerpt from Wikipedia :

"By 2004, 61% [yes 61!!!!]of the region's electricity was generated by renewable sources consisting of 43.6% from 28 wind farms, 12% from over 100 small-scale water turbines, and 5.3% from 2 biomass and 2 biogas plants. In addition, the region had what was then Spain's largest photovoltaic power plant at Montes de Cierzo de Tudela (1.2 MWp capacity) plus several hundred smaller photovoltaic installations"

Go Spain!
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Pudifoot: Any heat gained through not reflecting back to space would be a lot less than the long term greenhouse effect of the CO2 that would be created manufacturing the same amount of power using coal etc
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Not sure if I'm understanding it right but isn't water a non-renewable resource? If we produced energy like this for the masses we'd be evaporating our water supply like crazy right? Not sure how much water we have relative to how much we'd use but like oil we'd run out eventually..but maybe the timeline is like a million years? Any experts around? I'm really interested in how to convert energy from the sun into energy to use directly, e.g. solar power..that's renewable until the sun explodes.
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@Peeves

Why do you think they would let the water vapors escape?
They don't do that at coal or nuclear power plants so why would they with this one. It cools down after going trough the turbine.
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Someone needs take elementary science again. Water is only ever in a cycle when used on earth. The water is heated and becomes high pressure steam, which is then pumped through a turbine which turns and generates power. The steam then evaporates through cooling towers into the sky, where it eventually condenses into clouds of water droplets which fall to earth as rain. The water then gets pumped around again.
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Interesting subject.

Apparently "microwave technology could be applied for wireless energy transmission through space, and to the planet's surface".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_solar_power

I'm a big fan of James May - anyone know what the name of this series is?
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"and it doesn’t have - from what I understand - any environmental repercussions"

What about the poor birds that fly through and get cooked? Somebody has to stand up for their rights too!
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Ahahaha, I was JUST thinking that very though. I'm gonna take a road trip to Spain, hangout at these towers for a summer and fulfill my dream of watching a bird burst into flame mid-flight. *tweet tweet TWE-FOOMP!*
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