GlassPoint Solar just raised $26 million in venture capital and built a pilot project to prove that its solar steam equipment could help oil companies pry loose of heavy crude and make it easier to extract.
The 7 MW pilot project is built by Fremont, Calif-based GlassPoint Solar, and will be crucial for the four-year-old GlassPoint to validate its concentrating on solar thermal technology, says Rod MacGregor, CEO of GlassPoint Solar.
The company is building the project for Petroleum Development Oman, which is a joint venture between the government of Oman, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Partex. On Tuesday GlassPoint plans to announce a $26 million round of investment from Shell, RockPort Capital, Nth Power and Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital.
GlassPoint’s solar steam equipment uses steel mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto water-containing steel pipes to produce steam. The set-up is similar to the equipment used by much bigger rivals such as Abengoa Solar and Areva. What sets GlassPoint’s design apart is the glass structure that seals each row of mirrors and pipes and protects the equipment from strong wind, sand, dust and humidity. Those same conditions present challenges to any kind of solar steam or electricity generation equipment and require more frequent cleaning.
MacGregor compares his company’s equipment design to that of a greenhouse. Growers “try to get as much light into a greenhouse while protecting the plants from the environment. That’s similar to what we do,” he said.
In addition to the glass shield, GlassPoint’s technology is designed to use low-quality water that likely contains crud from the oil field. In comparison, solar steam equipment from rivals typically requires very pure water to run, or else their pipes will be clogged by the crud, MacGregor said. Eliminating the need to treat water saves costs.
“This exciting development, in the very heart of the MENA region demonstrates yet again how important a market it is becoming, with some serious, big prizes on offer for those companies able to capitalise” says Nick Thomson, Exhibition Director, GulfSol 2013 (www.gulfsol.com).
To make sure you able to promote your brand at next year’s inaugural event – the only dedicated solar exhibition for the entire Middle East and MENA region – contact the team today.