Solar Updraft Tower

The Project

Solar Updraft Tower Functional Principle

Solar Updraft Towers work on a simple well-known principle: Hot air rises. To make use of this simple physical fact for power generation, air is heated by the sun under a large translucent roof (greenhouse effect). The heated air is then sucked in by a central vertical cylindrical tube (chimney effect). The updraft wind, thus created, drives turbines/generators and so generates electricity. The principle has been proven by building and successfully operating a prototype in Spain for seven years.

Electricity from Solar Updraft Towers is the most cost-effective when compared with other solar power plants. Moreover, Solar Updraft Towers are characterized by a number of additional advantages:

  • Due to the soil under the collector working as a natural heat storage system, Solar Updraft Towers can operate 24/7 on pure solar energy.
  • No cooling water is needed as for many other solar thermal power plants.
  • Solar updraft towers are particularly reliable. Turbines and generators -subject to a steady flow of air -are the plant’s only moving parts.

The Technology

Schlaich Bergermann Solar GmbHStuttgart, Germany

  • This pre-feasibility study was commissioned by Hyperion Energy, Subiaco, Western Australia. The study assesses the viability of selected sites for solar updraft towers in WA concerning topography, meteorology, soil conditions and earthquake loads.
  • The feasibility study team from Schlaich Bergermann Solar would like to thank Hyperion Energy for their confidence and the excellent cooperation.
  • We hope that this joint effort will contribute to Australia keeping its position as a provider of energy for the world in the future, when the century of carbon fuels will be history, then by tapping the inexhaustible energy of the sun.

The Site

As the generation of power for this technology relies on large amounts of solar radiation, the location of the site is key. Having therefore carefully considered a number of options, we have purchased a 127,000 hectare site surrounding the township of Tuckanarra, in the Mid-West region of Western Australia. The extensive benefits of the site include:

  • An average annual horizontal solar radiation of 2300MJ/m2
  • Flat, uninhabited terrain, suitable for the construction of SUT
  • Extremely low risk of natural disaster (earthquake, cyclones or hail storms)
  • Close to major mines and OPR-Reserve and towns of Cue and Meekatharra
  • Excellent transport links to support the construction process:
    • Located next to the Great Northern Highway which provides access to the Port of Geraldton (400kms)
    • Access to the airport at Meekatharra – the airport has the capacity to accept 747 sized aircraft