They’re all the rage on the West Coast. In this re-imagination of the possibilities of solar power, thousands of reflective heliostats aim thermal energy from the sun at an immense tower. The immense heat collected at the tower raises the temperature of a liquid fuel – often molten salt – which boils water to steam to turn a conventional steam turbine generator. Renewable energy takes a lot of heat (…get it) because a lot of it is only available at certain times and in certain places. Solar power towers offer the added bonus of energy storage in the form of molten salt, which can be heated while the sun’s shining and stored in tanks to be converted into electricity when it’s dark.
And one final selling point… they look really cool.