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Sunday, 5 January, 2003, 03:20 GMT
Australia plans world's tallest tower
sunset
The sun's rays will be harnessed as energy
An Australian power company is planning to build the world's tallest structure - a solar tower - in the middle of the outback.

The project is part of a global campaign to encourage the use of more renewable energy.

Enviromission says the tower, at a proposed height of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), will be more than twice the size of the world's current tallest freestanding building, the Canadian National Tower in Toronto.

The one billion Australian dollar (US $0.56 bn) project is being backed by the Australian Government, and is expected to be completed in 2006 in the remote Buronga district in New South Wales.

If successful, the structure could provide enough electricity for 200,000 homes. It will save more than 700,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases which may otherwise have been emitted by coal- or oil-fired power stations.

Enviromission chief executive officer Roger Davey told Reuters news agency: "Initially people told me 'you're a dreamer', there's no way anything that high can be built, there's no way it can work".

"But now we have got to the point where it's not if it can be built, but when it can be built."

Huge monolith

The proposed structure will have a width similar in size to a football field and will stand in the centre of a huge glass roof spanning 7km (4.3 miles).

The sun will heat the air under the glass roof, and as it rises an updraft will be created in the tower, allowing air to be sucked through 32 turbines.

The turbines will then spin, generating power 24 hours a day.

The tower was developed by German structural engineers Schlaich Bergerman, who built a 200-metre-high demonstration power plant in Manzanares, Spain, in 1982.

The tower proposal has received the support of the Australian and New South Wales governments, which have defined it as a project of national significance.

The authorities plan to fit the tower with high intensity obstacle lights to prevent aircraft from crashing into it.

See also:

31 Jan 03 | Science/Nature
21 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
23 May 02 | Moneybox
24 Dec 01 | Science/Nature
02 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
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