Q: Why use a pipe or air channel to enclose the turbines? Why not have a large "wind farm," with turbines mounted on towers in the open air?
A: First, the wind turbines enclosed in a pipe can produce 8 times as much power for a given wind speed than a turbine in the open air (The Solar Chimney, Jorg Schlaich, Edition Axel Menges, p. 20). Second, the wind farm concept would require a much larger number of turbines. Also, the wind speed in the open air around the collector is significantly less than the air velocity through the air channel.
Q: How much power can a 55-meter pressure-staged wind turbine generate?
A: The answer depends in large part upon the wind velocity. At 15 m/s, the 55-meter pressure-staged wind turbine would generate about 4.6 MW. But at 20 m/s, the same size turbine would generate 11 MW.
Q: How much power would a Wind from the Sun power plant produce?
A: If each of the seven 55-meter turbines produces 10 MW of power, for a total of 70 MW per pipe, then a 4-pipe power plant would produce 280 MW of power.
On the other hand, if we use one large 173-meter turbine per pipe, that turbine will have a 40% greater swept area and so should produce 40% more power, for a total of about 98 MW per pipe. If there are 4 pipes, each producing 98 MW, the total power output of the plant would be about 392 MW.
A medium-scale test project is needed to determine what the average wind velocity would be for Wind from the Sun power plants of various sizes. Only then can the above general estimates be proven or disproven.
Q: How much land would a Wind from the Sun power plant require?
A: If the collector diameter is 4000 meters, and the pipes are 2000 meters long, extending 1500 meters into the collector and 500 meters beyond the collector, then the width and breadth of a plant with 4 pipes would be 5 km by 5 km. Additional space would be needed around the plant itself, so the total area of land needed would be more like 6 km by 6 km, a total of 36 square km (about 14 square miles).
On the other hand, if the pipes or air channels do not extend much beyond the perimeter of the collector, then the area will be less. The power plant would require land 4 km by 4 km. With additional space around the plant, the area needed would be something like 5 km by 5 km, a total of about 25 square km (about 10 square miles).
In order to produce sufficient power to be economical, the collector diamter might need to be as large a 5000 meters, or even 7000 meters. Such a large collector would require a large area of undeveloped (and inexpensive) land.
Q: Will a Wind from the Sun power plant be economically viable?
A: The answer depends mainly on how much the land costs and on the power output of the plant. This type of power plant requires a large amount of open land in a location with a large amount of yearly solar radiation. The best locations in the USA would be southern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas. The best locations in the world would include southern India, Africa, and Australia.
If the land could be obtained at a low enough cost, the cost of the power plant should be viable at 200+ MW. A Wind from the Sun power plant uses black ceramic gravel as a collector, instead of the glass greenhouse-like roof used by a Solar Chimney power plant.
Also, a Wind from the Sun power plant uses large-diameter pipes or rectangular air channels (built horizontally on the ground) instead of a tall vertical chimney. These pipes can be reinforced concrete in the area where the turbines operate, but the remainder of the pipe only has to support a strong wind passing though it.
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