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01 the solar village

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Published on May 26, 2009

The Solar Chimney
The solar chimney is a concept that exploits the updraft created when air is heated.
The process is a relatively simple one whereby solar energy is collected, usually by an arrangement of mirrors, then focused onto a central point where it heats the air, which then expands, loses density and rises creating an updraft. Directed up a flue it is then used to drive a turbine and generate electricity.

What this video sets out to demonstrate is how the concept of the solar chimney could be improved so that instead of exploiting the updraft directly, solar energy could be collected, stored and then used to generate steam which in turn is then used to drive a turbine and generate electricity.

In this way the need for an extremely high chimney to generate sufficient updraft and the similar need to place the turbine at the top of this chimney are negated. This greatly reduces costs, visual impacts and accessibility for routine maintenance. Similarly by storing the energy as heat, rather than using the updraft directly, power can be generated according to demand rather than on availability of radiation.

Since solar chimneys exploit the natural process of thermal uprising, a process that is significant in generating global weather systems, they offer an interesting opportunity to create and control updrafts in order to influence local and global weather systems. In particular networks of solar chimneys could be used to enhance continental air flow or to encourage deeper penetration of moist air and subsequent cloud cover and precipitation rates.

The model used here to explore this concept whilst fictitious is none the less plausible and offers the greatest opportunity to demonstrate the full range of potential benefits that could be exploited from a solar chimney. As with the underlying modelling system used the concept is topological, so the components do not need to be arrange in a specific manner. They are done so here purely for convenience.

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