Petroleum Development Oman is turning to concentrating solar as a way to drastically cut the cost of producing steam for its latest enhanced oil recovery project.
The system developed by Fremont, California-based Glasspoint Solar replaces natural gas for steam production and cuts the cost of the process by 55%, JWN Energy reports.
“GlassPoint’s enclosed trough technology features a unique solar thermal design that takes parabolic trough collectors, or large curved mirrors, and puts them inside an agricultural greenhouse,” JWN notes. “The mirrors concentrate sunlight on a pipe filled with oilfield-grade water and boils the water directly into steam.”
After testing the approach with a seven-megawatt prototype, GlassPoint is now scaling up to a gigawatt-scale installation that takes advantage of better designs and tooling and greater work force productivity.
“The greenhouse serves as protection, foundation, and structure in one, enabling major cost and performance advantages compared to exposed solar designs,” said Chief Technology Officer Pete von Behrens. “Most importantly, the zero-wind environment lets us reduce the amount of raw materials used throughout the entire system. Using less material reduces the weight and costs of the solar collectors, and makes the plant easier to install and easier to maintain.”