The CEO of GreenPoint, which is the company behind this giant undertaking has stated that he expects the new solar panels to reduce natural gas consumption by the rig by 80 percent.
The drilling company, Petroleum Development Oman, worked out a turnkey agreement with GreenPoint and will be financing the $600 million project. The plant can generate up to 1,021 megawatts of energy at a time and will produce 6,000 tons of steam daily for use in drilling activities. The next biggest plant of its type can only generate 370 megawatts of power at a time.
It works by using parabolic solar troughs, which have mirrors that reflect light to water-filled tubes, creating steam. The steam is then injected into the ground, increasing the temperature of the oil so that it rises to the surface where it can be collected.
The plant is enclosed by a greenhouse, which allows designers to use mirrors that are cheaper and, according to the company, fifty percent less aluminum and steel than outdoor solar plants. Construction of the largest solar plant in history will start this year, and it is expected to be done by 2017.
It is encouraging that even oil and gas companies are starting to find alternative energies cheaper and more beneficial than using the products they themselves manufacture. It will help alternative energy become more competitive if well-funded industries begin to look for cheaper ways to implement these new technologies. It is not surprising that they are the industry building the largest solar plant ever. Making them cheaper will make them more attractive to the general population and therefore, more common.