tower of power

Posted on May 3, 2007


Amidst the doom and gloom of global warming and its catastrophic consequences, Seville in the south of Spain is shining a light on alternative energy.

There, a new power plant using solar thermal power employs 600 giant mirrors to reflect light from the sun to a 40-floor tower. The heat activates a boiler at the top of the tower, generating steam, which powers up turbines, in turn generating electricity.

For now, it generates 11MW of electricity without emiting greenhouse gases, but will eventually produce enough for 600,000 Seville inhabitants when thousands more giant mirrors of 120 sqm each are ready.

What an inspiring innovation!

Along with wind power, this is another form of alternative energy that begs to be taken seriously. Naysayers may argue that the power generated from this solar thermal method costs three times more than conventional means, but I say export the technology to countries with a constant supply of sunlight, like those in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and parts of Asia who can afford it, first.

With improved technology and economies of scale kicking in eventually, its costs could well become comparable to that of conventional power plants.

The cynical side of me thinks rich states like Saudi Arabia and Dubai, which fulfil the criteria of having vast amounts of sunny days and can afford implementing it, would be likely to resist. It’s obvious – why would they want to invest in something that could threaten to end their profitable stream of income from oil?

But Seville shows that we can, and there are viable clean energy sources to be harnessed. No doubt it costs more for now but if we were truly serious about averting the crisis to our planet, then it’s high time we put our money where our mouth is. The time for action is now.

Read the BBC story here, or watch how the tower works here.