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Power Vegetables

written by Alex Moore on January 03, 2003 | author profile | forum profile | contact me
number of views: 76963 |   printable version (text) (PDF)

Powerplant of the Future
Powerplant of the Future
Credit: Enviromission
No, Iím not talking about the health benefits of carrots.

The Australian government has approved plans for construction of a massive greenhouse that will provide food and energy for 200,000 homes. Using a German-invented method called Solar Tower technology, a 20,000-acre (31 square mile) greenhouse will be built in the middle of the desert. In the center will be a 1 km tall tower.

As heat from the greenhouse rises up into the tower (warm air rises), a series of turbines and windmills will spin and generate electricity. The air will complete a cycle within the shaft and be used again and again. No fossil fuels, no emissions, no pollution.

As star trek as this all may seem, a smaller model was built in Spain in 1982 where it operated successfully for seven years. The technology has existed for decades, and 35 million dollars of research have gone into the project. It is only now that the urgency for an efficient renewable resource has prompted a government to action.

Even with a pricetag of 800 million dollars, the Solar Tower will be a major competitor on Australiaís coal energy market. When completed, the tower will be the tallest man-made structure in the world.

This invention solves two of the biggest problems on Mars: a lack of food and a lack of cheap power. An alternative to nuclear power is smiled upon by today's public, and this is certainly a valid option.

One downside to Solar Tower technology is that Mars' low air pressure might lessen its efficiency. Another problem, obviously, is the huge construction restraints that will exist in the first few decades of colonization. This is a giant undertaking, even by Terran standards.

The project's eventual success on Mars depends solely on its performance in Australia. Only in the late stages of colonization will this power option work. What is important, however, is that alternatives to traditional power-sources are being developed and implemented.

Works Cited:

2) Time Magazine Article

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