GlassPoint Solar, the leading supplier of solar to the oil and gas industry, recently participated in the SolarPACES 2016 Conference that was held in Abu Dhabi. GlassPoint took home the “Technology Innovation Award” for its enclosed trough technology, which is being deployed at gigawatt scale on an oilfield in the Oman desert. GlassPoint designed a first-of-its-kind solar thermal solution that brings the solar collectors indoors to reduce costs and overcome operating challenges.
Hosted this year by the Masdar Institute and the UAE Ministry of Energy, SolarPACES is the leading symposium for the concentrating solar power (CSP) industry. The SolarPACES executive committee, comprised of international solar researchers, recognized GlassPoint for its innovations and cost breakthroughs that are helping accelerate the global solar industry.
Dr. Chiaki Treynor, Vice President of Technology at GlassPoint, spoke on a plenary session explaining how GlassPoint’s novel solar thermal design has overcome the environmental challenges of deploying solar in harsh desert oilfields.
“GlassPoint’s innovation was to bring the solar collectors inside a commercial greenhouse, the kind used by the agricultural industry. The greenhouse structure isolates the mirrors and other solar components from the elements, which leads to significant cost and performance advantages,” said Dr. Treynor.
She went on explaining, “By eliminating the wind load, GlassPoint is able to use ultra-lightweight, thin reflectors, which are suspended from the roof of the greenhouse. Compared to older solar thermal designs with exposed reflectors, we use a fraction of the raw materials throughout the entire system. This has a cascading effect on cost—from reduced shipping costs, installation costs, to using smaller, off-the-shelf motors and drive systems used to track the sun. Since our reflectors are low-cost, we pack them much closer together to achieve the highest ground efficiency of any solar thermal system. This is particularly important for steam generation on oilfields, where siting is limited by active wells, roads and transmission lines.”
GlassPoint’s enclosed trough technology uses concentrated sunlight to produce steam used in oil production. Its technology has been deployed on oilfields in California and the Middle East, where its demonstrated consistent operational uptime even through severe sand storms. Automated washing units clean the roof of the greenhouse each night, removing layers of sand and dust that can reduce efficiency.
GlassPoint is currently building one of the world’s largest solar plants of any kind with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), the country’s largest oil and gas producer. Miraah, which means mirror in Arabic, is a landmark 1,021 MW thermal project bridging the renewable and traditional energy industries. Once complete, it will produce 6,000 tons of steam daily, delivering a significant portion of the steam requirements at PDO’s Amal field.
“Miraah will be 100 times larger than the pilot facility that’s been operating successfully in Oman for over three years,” Dr. Treynor added. “Construction of Miraah is progressing faster than the plan and is currently under budget. The project consists of 36 greenhouse blocks, built in a continuous sequence. We are on track to deliver steam from the first four greenhouses before the end of 2017.”
GlassPoint Solar is the leading supplier of solar to the oil and gas industry. The global oil and gas industry consumes an amount of energy equal to 10% of its own production, making it one of the biggest markets for renewable energy. Operating worldwide from the Middle East to California, GlassPoint’s enclosed trough technology delivers the lowest cost energy to power oilfield operations. By harnessing sunshine, instead of burning natural gas or other fuels, GlassPoint helps oil producers reduce operating expenses while significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
GlassPoint is one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the world with more than one gigawatt of solar oilfield projects under construction. The World Economic Forum recently recognized GlassPoint as a 2016 Technology Pioneer for its role in enabling more economical and sustainable oil production.