Sealed From Dust

Many of the world’s oilfields are located in deserts where blowing sand and dust create unique challenges for solar power. By bringing the solar collectors indoors, GlassPoint has overcome this longstanding hurdle. GlassPoint’s technology is proven to withstand harsh deserts environments, producing solar steam even in the toughest operating conditions.

Self Cleaning Glasshouses

Unlike all other CSP technologies, GlassPoint has brought its solar collectors inside a commercial glasshouse. The glasshouse creates a wind-free environment, protecting the mirrors and other delicate components from dust, dirt, sand and humidity. This is especially important in the Middle East, where sandstorms are common year-round.

GlassPoint solar steam generators include a proven, robotic cleaning system that automatically washes the roof of the glasshouse at night. The system recaptures wash water in the gutters, which is filtered and reused to minimize water consumption.

Automated Washing Timelapse

Duststorm Performance

Real-world operating data from solar projects in Oman and the United Arab Emirates reveal that soiling can reduce performance by an average of 2.5% per day. If the optical surfaces are left unwashed for a week, performance drops by more than 15%, underscoring the need for daily wash cycles. Exposed solar designs often rely on manual washing systems, which can be unsafe for operators and impractical at scale. In remote oilfield locations, manual washing will significantly increase operating costs.

Proven Desert Performance

In a recent Middle East dust storm where winds exceeded 53 km/h (33 mph), a GlassPoint solar steam generator continued to operate, producing steam for the entire day. Optical performance was completely restored overnight after one wash cycle where layers of accumulated sand were removed from the glasshouse. The following day, the solar EOR facility exceeded performance targets, producing more than 100% of steam output models.

Protected from Soiling

GlassPoint’s enclosed trough design dramatically reduces energy losses from soiling. The glasshouse roof is six meters above ground level and experiences half the soiling rate of surfaces one meter above grade. More than 90% of the sunlight used to produce steam enters through the roof of the glasshouse, where soiling levels are the lowest.

GlassPoint maintains a pristine environment inside the glasshouse by injecting dehumidified and filtered air to preserve an internal pressure that is higher than the exterior atmosphere. The difference in pressure expels sand and debris through any small gaps in the structure, preventing sand and dust from entering.

In other solar designs, the mirrors and positioning systems have no protection from these outdoor elements. If faced with a sandstorm, the solar collectors would quickly cover in sand and operations would be idled. In addition to increased downtime, losses due to soiling are a significant challenge for designs where the mirrors, the key optical surface, are located close to ground level. Not only will these systems require more frequent cleaning, it also puts them in the “abrasion zone” for high-speed wind blown sand particles. The sand abrasions would degrade the surface of the mirrors in just a few years, reducing performance and increasing maintenance costs.