Researchers in Jordan and Qatar have unveiled a groundbreaking design for a “twin technology solar system” (TTSS), showcasing a double-action solar tower that promises to generate clean energy day and night. This innovative design combines two tower-style technologies, merging a solar updraft tower and a cooling downdraft tower into a single structure.
The solar updraft tower operates by heating air at ground level, utilizing the natural tendency of hot air to rise through a tall tower equipped with turbines. The TTSS integrates this updraft tower with a cooling downdraft tower that forces air downwards, powering an additional turbine. The synergy of these two tower types allows the system to operate in both updraft and downdraft modes simultaneously.
The tower’s design features an updraft tower at its core, surrounded by 10 downdraft towers along the outer perimeter. The researchers modeled a TTSS tower standing at 200 meters tall and 13.6 meters in diameter, with a substantial 250-meter diameter collector underneath. The cooling tower’s diameter was 10 meters, leaving a gap around the perimeter partitioned into 10 separate downdraft towers.
Simulation testing using local weather data indicated that the TTSS system could generate approximately 753 megawatt-hours of energy annually. The external downdraft towers would run continuously, delivering about 400 megawatt-hours, while the updraft tower would work more efficiently under direct sunlight, contributing around 350 MWh. This output is more than double that of similar updraft-only designs, potentially addressing the intermittency issues commonly associated with solar projects.
While the researchers did not provide a cost analysis or compare the technology to other renewable energy sources, they acknowledged potential challenges, such as water availability for the downdraft system. The TTSS, designed for hot, dry desert areas, aligns with the geographical conditions ideal for such towers. Although hurdles remain, this innovative approach offers a glimpse into diverse methods for harnessing clean energy, showcasing the industry’s continuous pursuit of inventive solutions.