GlassPoint Solar, a US maker of solar steam generators for the oil and gas industry, is planning to break ground this year on the world’s largest solar power station in the hot, largely desert Gulf state of Oman.
The $600m Miraah (mirror) plant will turn water into steam for use in oil recovery for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) at its Amal field in the south of the country.
The facility will cover 3 square kilometres, and will have a peak generating capacity of 1GW.
(It will be) solar-powered oil production at an unprecedented scale– Raoul Restucci, PDO managing director
That is almost twice as big as the present holder of the record, the 580MW Solar Star plant in California.
The steam is used as a method of "enhanced recovery" of the Amal’s viscous crude. Although the electricity is not being used to power houses, GlassPoint said the solar plant replaces gas and could provide electricity for 200,000 people.
The plant will produce an average of 6,000 tonnes of steam a day when fully operational.
It will be "solar-powered oil production at an unprecedented scale", said PDO managing director Raoul Restucci at the contract signing ceremony in Muscat.
He said it would free up valuable natural gas "which is needed elsewhere to diversify Oman’s economy".
Privately-owned GlassPoint has developed a solar trough design that encloses lightweight mirrors in greenhouses. The mirrors focus the sun’s energy on pipes filled with water, and the steam is injected into oil reservoirs to extract heavy crude.
The company claims its design is two to three times less expensive than concentrated solar power technologies.
PDO has been working with GlassPoint since 2010 on a 7MW pilot scheme to test the commercial viability of solar steam (pictured above).
Photograph: A 7MW trial project built by GlassPoint on Oman’s Amal oilfield (Source: Milei Vencel/Wikimedia Commons)