October 5 (Renewables Now) - California-based GlassPoint Solar Inc and partner Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), together building the 1-GW Miraah solar thermal park in Oman, have to date cut costs by 55% as the technology used for the project scales up.
These savings were achieved through the use of improved designs, enhanced tooling and increased workforce productivity in deploying GlassPoint’s enclosed trough technology, shows a technical paper co-authored and presented by the two companies at the SolarPACES 2017 conference held last week in Chile.
GlassPoint built a 7-MW pilot solar plant for PDO in 2013 and commenced construction work on the Miraah project at the same oilfield in south Oman in November 2015. Upon completion, the solar thermal park will consist of 36 standard greenhouse blocks that house parabolic trough collectors, and will have a total capacity of 1,021 MWp. The first greenhouse block was finalised in August 2017.
The Miraah plant will produce steam for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) through the use of mirrors that concentrate sunlight on a pipe filled with oilfield-grade water.
The 36 greenhouses act as foundations and structures, while also providing protection, thus bringing major cost and performance advantages compared to exposed solar designs, explains GlassPoint’s CTO 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,” he adds.
The paper shows that GlassPoint has optimised the equipment and mirror manufacturing process reducing the mirror material by about 18%, deployed a lighter and stiffer mirror support structure with 30% less aluminum usage, and installed a new drive system for sun tracking with one-third fewer motors.
The company has also developed special tooling and equipment to streamline installation, and carefully trained local contractors. This has helped achieve a 60% reduction in labour hours, it said.