Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal honors GlassPoint’s steam-producing solar technology for oil extraction.

GlassPoint Solar, a provider of solar steam generators for enhanced oil recovery today announced it has received a 2011 Energy Award from the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. Presented at a ceremony last Tuesday honoring dedicated companies and leaders that rise to the top in cleantech and energy, GlassPoint was awarded “Best Research & Innovation” for its breakthrough in solar collector technology.

“In a first for the solar industry, GlassPoint produces steam for less than the cost of steam produced by burning natural gas. This achievement can be attributed to our brilliant technical team that combined proven technologies already in high-volume production with low-cost components to dramatically drive down costs and improve upon older solar thermal designs. Essentially, we’ve created an indoor solar collector field which allows for unmatched price performance and durability,” said GlassPoint CEO and President Rod MacGregor. “This award recognition is testament to the vast impact our technology will have on the energy sector, both the solar industry and the oil industry where it will be applied to reduce the cost of heavy oil production worldwide, releasing large volumes of gas that can be used for higher value applications.”

GlassPoint’s Single Transit Trough (STT) technology encloses the solar thermal system inside a glasshouse structure, isolating the mirrors from outdoor elements including wind, dust and dirt and humidity. The protected environment allows GlassPoint to use ultra-lightweight, low-cost reflective materials and components that together are less than one-tenth the weight of mirror systems used in exposed mirror designs and are a fraction of the cost to manufacture. The STT architecture eliminates multiple light transits through glass, resulting in higher optical efficiency than older technologies that require two or sometimes three light transits through soiled glass. Producing five times more steam per acre than a solar tower facility, GlassPoint’s STT technology also offers the highest steam production per unit area in the industry.

Earlier this year, GlassPoint commissioned the world’s first commercial solar enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project showcasing its STT technology. The Kern County 21Z Solar Project is the only operating solar EOR project worldwide and proof GlassPoint’s technology works at the commercial-scale. Oil producers use steam, typically generated by burning natural gas, to develop heavy oil reserves and maintain production of maturing wells. Solar-generated steam can deliver up to 80 percent of total annual EOR project needs, consequently reducing of the amount of natural gas used by 80 percent.

Pete von Behrens, GlassPoint chief technology officer, invented GlassPoint’s STT architecture in collaboration with Rod MacGregor. A complete list of 2011 Energy Award winners and finalists can be viewed here. Visit the GlassPoint Solar YouTube channel for video footage of STT technology in action.

GlassPoint is the leading provider of solar steam generators to the oil and gas industry. When used for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) GlassPoint solar steam generators reduce natural gas consumption by up to 80%, releasing large amounts of gas for use in higher value applications. This is only possible because, unlike previous solar designs, GlassPoint steam generators deliver steam at a lower cost than steam produced by burning natural gas. GlassPoint’s steam generators are sealed to protect them from the sand, dust, dirt and high humidity typical of oilfield environments throughout the world. GlassPoint is headquartered in Fremont, California with offices in Bakersfield, California, Muscat, Oman and Shenzhen, China.