The Economist; artificial tornadoes as energy source

Jul 3, 2004
Hotel room somewhere by an airport
<Note from Eric:
I was surprised to see such an article in The Economist. The subject line reminds me of the checkout line at the grocery store. What do you think?

A few snips below, but the whole article can be read with no trouble at:>

Alternative energy, The power of spin
Sep 29th 2005, From The Economist print edition
Harnessing artificial tornadoes as an energy source

WEATHER systems, as the world has recently been reminded, have awesome power. The energy released by a large hurricane can exceed the energy consumption of the human race for a whole year, and even an average tornado has a power similar to that of a large power station. If only mankind could harness that energy, rather than being at its mercy. Louis Michaud, a Canadian engineer who works at a large oil company, believes he has devised a way to do just that, by generating artificial whirlwinds that can be controlled and harnessed. He calls his invention the “atmospheric vortex engineâ€￾.

His idea works on a similar principle to a solar chimney, which consists of a tall, hollow cylinder surrounded by a large greenhouse. The sun heats the air in the greenhouse, and the hot air rises. But its only escape route is via the chimney. A turbine at the base of the chimney generates electricity as the air rushes by. A small solar chimney was operated successfully in Spain in the 1980s, and EnviroMission, an Australian firm, is planning to build a 1,000-metre-high example in New South Wales. But the efficiency of such a system is proportional to the height of the chimney, notes Mr Michaud, which is limited by practical considerations. His scheme replaces the chimney with a tornado-like vortex of spinning air, which could extend several kilometres into the atmosphere.
Two questions:
1. Why a vortex?
2. It's kind of complicated recovering energy out of a vortex, and a lot of the energy is lost to friction.

I detect some pseudoscience here, and possibly an association fallacy with the solar chimney concept.

That's a very good question Tim. I really don't know why they would choose something as complicated as vorticies. Even if we did use them, then wouldn't they have to be quite large, to be able to withdraw raw energy from them?