Lowest Cost

In many parts of the world, GlassPoint solar steam generators can deliver steam at costs comparable with steam made by burning natural gas. In the graph below, the price shown for GlassPoint and conventional solar is the “gas equivalent price” taking into account the total cost of ownership over a twenty year period, including both capital expenditure and operating expenses.

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Proven Glasshouse Reduces Costs, Improves Efficiency

GlassPoint is the only solar thermal design that brings the solar collectors indoors. The self-contained glasshouse delivers foundation, structure and protection in one. This enables a number of cost and efficiency breakthroughs that far outweigh the efficiency losses caused by being inside the glasshouse structure.

Glasshouses have been mass-manufactured for the agriculture industry for decades, and they are deployed all over the world in all sorts of weather conditions. Thanks to decades of continuous improvement, the glasshouse structure is highly optimized to reduce cost and maximize the transmission of sunlight. GlassPoint leverages this mature supply chain to deliver the lowest cost of steam.

Lowest Capital Costs

The glasshouse creates an indoor wind-free environment, allowing a reduction in the amount of raw materials used throughout the entire system. Enclosed trough mirrors are made of ultra-light, razor-thin material. The mirrors are suspended from the glasshouse ceiling and controlled by small, inexpensive positioning systems and motors.

In all other solar designs, each individual mirror is exposed to the force of the wind. These designs require additional steel for support and durability and more concrete to create a stable foundation. As a result, a solar field made of exposed troughs typically weighs more than 30 kilograms per square meter of mirror. In contrast, the GlassPoint solar field, including the glasshouse enclosure, weighs less than 5 kilograms per square meter.

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Lowest Operating Costs

The glasshouse is equipped with an automated washing machine that washes the glasshouse each night to restore full optical efficiency. Robotic washing requires zero operator intervention and can recycle the vast majority of the water, further reducing costs.  Learn more about operating advantages.

GlassPoint steam generators are designed to oilfield standards, using the same feedwater and much of the same equipment, including identical boiler tubes, controls and piping. This significantly reduces costs of water treatment, integration and maintenance. Learn more about oilfield integration.

Highest Efficiency

By eliminating the force of wind on the mirrors, GlassPoint increases optical accuracy. Higher accuracy enables a smaller receiver tube relative to the size of the mirrors, resulting in a higher “concentration ratio” and improved thermal efficiency.

Energy loses due to mirrors bending in the wind is a significant challenge in the Middle East, where wind speeds can be 10 times higher than those in Spain or California where most other solar thermal systems are deployed. In Oman, 90% of the available solar energy is delivered during wind speeds above 4 meters per second, compared to only 30% in Spain. Performance modeling shows that exposed solar designs could experience a drop in performance of 8% to 14% when operating in these high wind speeds.

Soiling from sand and dust also leads to significant performance drops. Operating data from solar projects in the Arabian Gulf revealed a week of unwashed mirrors decreases output by more than 15%. High winds and high soiling also lead to mirror degradation from sand abrasion, resulting in additional loses. Download Menasol presentation.

The glasshouse enclosure enables GlassPoint systems to not only survive these challenging conditions, but also maintain the highest operating performance in the following ways:

These improvements in performance far outweigh the losses caused by transmission through the glasshouse roof and shading from the glasshouse structure.

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Lowest Construction Costs 

GlassPoint builds its solar fields in glasshouse blocks using a series of standardized steps to avoid custom project costs and delays. Most of the system is comprised of prefabricated components that can be easily assembled onsite. The mirrors can be lifted by hand and easily installed with minimal overhead lifting and work at height. Together, these methods improve safety, speed deployment and reduce construction costs. Download SolarPACES paper on construction.