Friday, May 04, 2007

Solar power plant looks heavenly

David Pescovitz: This 40 story tall tower just outside Seville, Spain is actually a new solar thermal power plant. Operated by SolĂșcar EnergĂ­a, the facility uses 600 mirrors on the ground to tightly focus the sun's rays on water pipes at the top of the tower. The heat converts the water into steam that drive turbines to generate electricity. It's the photo of the reflected solar rays hitting the tower that really impresses me though. As editor Alistair Strachan pointed out to me, the scene "looks strangely religious," like a bad biblical illustration. From the BBC News:
 Media Images 42877000 Jpg  42877005 Mirrors Bbc 203The tower looked like it was being hosed with giant sprays of water or was somehow being squirted with jets of pale gas. I had trouble working it out. In fact, as we found out when we got closer, the rays of sunlight reflected by a field of 600 huge mirrors are so intense they illuminate the water vapour and dust hanging in the air. The effect is to give the whole place a glow - even an aura - and if you're concerned about climate change that may well be deserved.