The major headline in the April 5 Yuma Sun was about the 2,500 jobs associated with construction of two energy towers in San Luis.
The facts reported in the paper about this project, and a little Internet research on the subject, lead me to believe that this is a highly dubious project. Here are a few things that concern me.
This project is going to use an incredible amount of desalinated water from the Sea of Cortez. Where is the power for that desalinization going to come from? Also, you don’t just wave a magic wand and have the Mexican government approve something like that. This whole project hinges on the water being available.
Apparently some of the sprayed water reaches the bottom of the tower and requires disposal. Where is this, probably brackish, residual water going to go?
These towers are going to be 3,000 feet high and 450 feet wide! Try to imagine the size of these things. By comparison, a large cooling tower at a nuclear plant is just 600 feet high. If this project ever gets built and then fails, San Luis will be left with two gigantic white elephants.
Developers claim that the project works best in hot, dry weather.
What happens to efficiency when the dewpoint in July, August and September hovers at 65 degrees? This thing operates like a big swamp cooler, and we all know how well they work in midsummer.
The towers also depend on ambient winds to produce additional electricity. What ambient winds? This is one of the least windy places in the country.
The paper reported that 2,000 employees will be required to operate the two towers over multiple shifts. This number sounds totally implausible. What are they all going to be doing, spinning the turbine wheels by hand? How can they be competitive with all that labor cost?
As far as I can tell, Clean Wind Energy has never built anything. The company’s stock traded for 3 cents per share on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board, where prices are easily manipulated. This whole project could be a speculative stock scheme. There is already speculative frenzy on the Internet about Clean Wind and the San Luis project.
It looks like financing is going to come from selling partnership shares. That will probably be the most lucrative phase of the entire project.
What is the infrastructure for delivering all this electricity to the markets in California and Arizona?
As far as I can determine, a downdraft tower has never been built anywhere in the world. It is a high-cost, high-risk venture.
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