EnviroMission is an Australian company, and project planner, says that it would burn absolutely no fuel, and that nothing like it has ever been tried in the USA before this project, or the world for that matter. There has been a small test project in Spain of this type, however, this project would be the second largest structure in the world and only 100 feet less than the Dubai luxury skyscraper, Burj Khalifa. According to Chris Davey, the US operations president, which is located in Phoenix states that: “It would be conceited to say we have the solution, but its a reasonable energy alternative.”
EnviroMission envisions something different than what most people associate with solar power, which is the photovoltaics, or solar panels. Those solar panels are still too costly to be put to use in large scale commercial projects like this one in Arizona. EnviroMission envisions something entirely different in this new project.
The new Arizona solar project for EnviroMission consists of a giant, round greenhouse like structure in which air becomes trapped inside and rise to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Since hot air rises, it would rush towards the tall tower in the center while passing through any of 32 turbines on the way up the tower. Those spinning turbines would then turn generators and generate electricity.
The beauty of the EnviroMission project is that this plant will generate power nearly all the time, even at night. It doesn’t need continuous, blazing sunlight to operate, all it needs is for some solar heating. During times of little to no sunlight, the air in the canopy would be heated by the sands thermal energy absorbed from the excess heat during the day. Davey states that “It’s incredibly benign, no water, no dangerously high temperatures, no ‘death rays’ from mirrors, very few moving parts.”
The project could be a boom for the local economy according to John Drum, a member of the local county board of directors,, and stated the following: “It is a very favorable operation and it will bring quite a few jobs to our county, and when it is done, there will be 40 to 50 people to run it.” IT also would draw more attention to the isolated area off state route 95 north of Quartzsite, Arizona. Project supporters state that the view would be stupendous on a clear day from the top of the tower, which I imagine would be at over 1/2 mile high.
The plant is still far from being built, as financing for the $750 million dollar project could prove to be difficult. There are also regulations to deal with and the economics of the project, as coal and gas still generate power more inexpensively. There are also environmental concerns with the scope of the project, as environmentalists, although not wanting to oppose a source of clean energy, but are concerned over the potential affects on migrating birds.
According to Vashti Supplee, the director of the Arizona Chapter of the National Audubon Society stated that “this thing seems to be a weird black hole at the moment. It’s possible the birds migrating along the nearby Colorado River would be confused by it. I don’t know what’s going on with it.”
They still need to complete an Environmental Impact Statement which is required by law. Local land regulations were altered due to the fact that nothing was ever contemplated in the area that was as tall as this tower will be. EnviroMission local President Davey said that the company has moved forward slowly and quietly on the worlds tallest chimney project in Arizona so that it does not promise a miracle power source that does not work. He said “All we are using is warm air to drive turbines.”