By Eric Jay Toll for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
Whiting Turner is the lead GC for one of the most monumental construction projects in the Western Hemisphere—the San Luis Solar Wind Energy Tower (SWET). Designed by Commonwealth Dynamics, the vertical power-generating wind tunnel will stand just shy of one-half mile tall. It will be one of the tallest structures in the world, and the tallest in North American. Its base sits nearly a square mile of private land inside San Luis in Yuma County.
The construction will require a unique system of cranes, which are being designed by Kroll Cranes S/A of Denmark. The tower and lift system will be used to raise the 2,520-foot tall structure from its foundation just north of the Mexico-U.S. border.
The international construction and engineering team is looking for local subs and vendors to partner and supply the project when it goes vertical in about 18 months.
The Maryland company, Solar Wind Energy Tower, Inc. (SWET), has acquired 600 acres of private land within the city limits. The site, along Yuma County 24th Street between Avenues E and D, has been approved by the San Luis City Council along with a development agreement to provide city services—including water—to the tower. Only a height variance remains to be reviewed by the city.
The company planning to build the power generating facility will buy water for nearly $3M from San Luis and spray it across the opening 2,250 feet up in the sky. The cool, moist mist across the hot desert sky will generate massive wind speeds within the tower that will turn highly tuned, extraordinarily-crafted fans to drive the turbines to generate electricity.
The concrete structure will be built using 2,000 workers, and a host of contractors and subcontractors working with Whiting-Turner and Kroll Cranes to raise the tower of power from the ground to the sky.
If it were placed on its side, the power generator would fill the block from Camelback Road to Campbell Avenue and 24th Street to 20th Street. Its parabolic diameter would still be taller than any building in Phoenix (AZBEX, Apr. 10 and Oct. 5, 2012)
Groundbreaking is slated within the next 18 months. The company and its partners are in the process of pulling together financial backers in order to break ground. The project’s site, west of town, and on private land, is a move designed to speed the construction process. Originally proposed for BLM lands, the developers were dismayed by the environmental and regulatory time lines.
In its inception, it would have been the tallest building on earth at more than 3,000 feet tall. Working with the design team, the developers determined that the lower height permits the use of the reinforced concrete pour that simplifies the construction when compared to the construction requirement of the taller version. The energy engineering team adapted the design to still produce power profitably.
Interested vendors can contact the company to register qualifications with SWET. AZBEX subscribers can access the link in the On the Job box. See a video of the technology at SWETower.