The Solar Collector:

A large area of land is covered with a material with low reflectivity (dark in color). This material collects the sun's energy in the form of heat, and is therefore called the collector. The area of land covered is circular.

More of the sun's light turns to heat when it strikes a dark material. If the material were a light color, such as white, then much of the sun's light would be reflected. Black is the best color to use for this purpose.

The collector should be black ceramic gravel. Tiles of black ceramic would work, but it might be time-consuming to layout all of the tiles. Gravel will allow water to pass through into the ground below whenever it rains. Perhaps the best material to use for the collector would be black ceramic gravel. This material should be easy to spread over the ground and will allow rain to pass through to the ground.

How large an area of land should be covered with black ceramic gravel? The size of the collector will determine, to a great extent, the amount of power produced by the plant. If the collector is too small, little or no wind will be created. If the collector is too big, the wind may be too strong to harness effectively.

At this point in time, we can only speculate about the optimum size for the collector and the power plant as a whole. Solar chimney power plants also use a type of collector to heat air. This comparison suggests that a 30 Megawatt power plant would have a collector 2200 meters in diameter, a 100 MW plant would have a 3600 meter diameter collector, and a 200 MW plant would have a collector 4000 meters in diameter (The Solar Chimney, Jorg Schlaich, Edition Axel Menges, p. 36).

Sunlight inputs a certain amount of energy into any type of solar power plant. In the case of a Wind From The Sun power plant, the solar collector captures this energy. A solar collector with a diameter of 4000 meters has an area of 12.566 million square meters. The amount of energy from the sun in a suitable location for a solar power plant, such as the southwest of the United States, is about 2300 kWh/m2y (kilowatt hours per square meter per year). Thus a 4 km solar collector receives about 28, 900 GWh/y (gigawatt-hours per year) of energy.

A 200 MW solar chimney power plant has a solar collector of 4 km diameter and is projected to produce about 600 GWh/y of energy (The Solar Chimney, Jorg Schlaich, Edition Axel Menges, p. 36-37). Since a collector of that size receives 28,900 GWh/y, the efficiency of such a power plant is 2.08% (power output divided by power input

If a Wind From The Sun power plant had the same efficiency as a solar chimney power plant (whose efficiency is mainly limited by the chimney), then a 4 km size solar collector would produce about 600 GWh/y (gigawatt-hours per year). If a Wind From The Sun power plant could achieve an efficiency of 5%, then a higher power output, of about 1445 GWh/y, could be obtained.

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