A team of researchers from Al Hussein Technical University and Qatar University has developed an innovative design called the “twin technology solar system” (TTSS). The researchers published their findings in the journal Energy Reports.

The TTSS tower remains a concept at this time. No physical TTSS tower has yet been built.

However, simulations indicate that the TTSS concept has great potential. The TTSS tower could make it possible to generate renewable energy around the clock.

This unique system combines a solar updraft tower (like the one pictured above) and a cooling downdraft tower into one structure. The updraft tower is placed at the center, and 10 downdraft towers surround it.

The TTSS operates in both modes simultaneously. It leverages the updraft tower’s efficiency under direct sunlight and the downdraft towers’ continuous operation.

According to New Atlas, the TTSS tower stands at a height of 200 m (656 ft) with a diameter of 13.6 m (45 ft). The tower features a 250-m (820-ft) diameter collector beneath it.

Meanwhile, the inner cooling tower has a diameter of 10 m (33 ft), while a 1.8-m (5.9-ft) gap surrounds it. The gap is partitioned into the 10 separate downdraft towers, with misting systems at the top and turbines at the bottom.

A diagram explaining the TTSS concept is shown below.


Source: Al Hussein Technical University / Qatar University

Based on simulation testing using local weather data, the team projected that the TTSS system would generate approximately 750 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy annually. The external downdraft towers would provide around 400 MWh, while the updraft tower would contribute approximately 350 MWh.

The research team found that these figures were 2.14 times higher compared to similar designs that only use updraft.

The TTSS could potentially help solve the issue of solar energy storage.

Currently, solar energy systems use lithium-ion batteries for storage. However, lithium-ion batteries only store energy for up to four hours. In addition, conventional solar panels don’t produce energy at night.

As a result, homeowners waste up to 20 percent of the solar power that they produce. And solar customers continue to rely on other energy sources to make up for solar’s intermittency.

By producing energy around the clock, the TTSS system can overcome many of these limitations.

The research team didn’t provide a cost comparison with other systems like a solar photovoltaic array combined with battery energy storage. Moreover, the team acknowledged that acquiring sufficient water to run the downdraft system may prove challenging in the hot desert climates where the TTSS system would be most effective.

Nevertheless, the findings are promising. And researchers are developing other exciting ways to produce solar energy continuously.

In October, Spanish clean energy start-up Soleolico introduced a clean energy system that attaches solar panels to wind turbines. The system can produce energy at all hours of the day.

Featured Image Source: Chris Lenton