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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note/Aussie Solar Tower

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on a new solar tower, the largest man-made structure in the world, to be built in the Australian outback.


CURWOOD: Coming up, an offbeat beachcomber goes hunting for the heads of marine mammals. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Cynthia Graber.


GRABER: The sun-scorched Australian outback will soon be home to a new form of energy production that will use solar rays to create enough electricity to power a small city. The device is, essentially, a huge tower attached to an immense building, covered with a roof of glass. The tower will rise more than half a mile, making it the tallest man-made structure on the planet. The building, meanwhile, will stretch across more than four miles of the desert outback and act like a greenhouse, trapping and heating air. As this hot air rises, it will flow to the top of the greenhouse and, eventually, up through the tower where it will turn a series of turbines that produce electricity.

When the half-billion dollar solar tower is completed, it will produce enough energy to supply about 200,000 homes.

The project is the brainchild of German engineers who tested a demo model in Spain in the 1980s. They expect to complete their Australian complex in 2006. It will be the largest plant to harness the sun’s power for energy production.

That's this week’s Note on Emerging Science. I’m Cynthia Graber.


CURWOOD: And you’re listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Steven Cravis “The Shining Star” The Sound Of Light, Steven Cravis Music (1995)]



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