Solar power demands direct sunlight, one of the reasons why the Government's alternative energies are now directed at wind turbines. But now structural engineers Schlaich Bergermann of Stuttgart plan to put turbines and sun together to generate 200MW of electricity even when the sky is overcast.
Place a giant glass disc two to six metres above ground, fix a concrete chimney 1km tall to the centre, so the whole thing resembles the flare of an giant upended trumpet. Fit wind turbines at the base to convert the updraught into electricity. Easy to build and maintain and ideal in desert regions where land is cheap and sun plentiful.
EnviroMission in Australia plans to open the world's first solar tower of power in 2005. The cost? A cool dollars 800 million.