The world’s largest solar project will be used to produce huge volumes of steam to help a company in Oman extract more heavy oil from depleted wells.
The 1,021-MW Miraah project is jointly owned by Petroleum Development Oman, the country’s largest oil and gas producer, and GlassPoint Solar, an oilfield equipment supplier based in Fremont, California.
“GlassPoint’s greenhouse-enclosed parabolic solar troughs use mirrors to focus sunlight on a tube containing water, yielding high-pressure steam, which is injected into an oil reservoir to heat heavy oil,” Greentech reports. “The greenhouse shields the mirrors from the desert elements, and an automated washing system cleans the glass. One of the cost drivers in a traditional concentrated solar power (CSP) project is building the system to withstand wind—strong foundations require more steel and concrete. GlassPoint’s CSP system is enclosed in an agricultural greenhouse, which allows for cheaper, thinner mirrors and ‘half the amount of steel and aluminum’ of an outdoor solar field, according to the company.”
Wesoff adds that thermal enhanced oil recovery “is a real-world, non-subsidized application in which CSP could competitively replace natural gas in an enormous emerging market.”