The Solar-Powered Oil Field… An Adjustocene Fable

Guest post by David Middleton

This post is sort of a sequel to Charles the Moderator’s “Climate impacts of super-giant oilfields go up with age, Stanford scientists say.”  It was also inspired by comment from my friend Griff on the utility of solar power in oilfields.

This section of the article, in particular, caught my attention:


How to stop this harmful cycle? One way is through tougher government regulations that force companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or risk having to lower production. This has been shown to work at two Canadian offshore fields, Hibernia and Terra Nova, where regulations have sharply lowered greenhouse gas emissions by limiting oil production in fields where gas is wasted through flaring and venting.

“Better regulation is certainly part of the answer, but a more progressive solution is to encourage energy companies to draw the energy they need to operate their aging oilfields from renewable sources such as solar, wind or geothermal,” Masnadi said.

He cites the example of the California-based company GlassPoint Solar, which uses solar-powered steam generators to reduce the gas consumption and carbon emissions of its oilfields by up to 80 percent.

Done right, such solutions could end up being a win-win for industry and the environment, the Stanford scientists said, by helping oil companies drive down energy costs while simultaneously reducing their climate impacts.

Eureka Alert

The GlassPoint Solar project in Oman doesn’t reduce any “GHG” emissions.  It actually leads to much greater “GHG” emissions.  So, it’s a win-win-win…

Oman has pioneered Enhanced Oil Recovery in the Middle East

The Sultanate of Oman is widely recognized as a global leader in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) technologies. Since 2007, Oman has steadily increased its oil production back to near record levels through steam injection and other advanced EOR solutions. The country is now exploring large-scale solar EOR projects to save valuable gas resources needed to fuel economic growth.

According to the National Centre of Statistics and Information (NCSI), gas used at Oman’s oilfields account for more than 20% of the country’s total gas use, with fuel for EOR representing a significant portion of that. This will continue to increase as EOR expands to contribute a third of the country’s crude oil production by 2020. At the same time, more gas is needed for power generation, desalination and industrial development.

Solar EOR will free gas for economic growth

GlassPoint partnered with Petroleum Development Oman, the country’s largest oil and gas producer, to build the Middle East’s first solar EOR project. The pilot system has been operating successfully since late 2012, proving GlassPoint’s solar EOR solution is a viable alternative to burning natural gas for steam in Oman.

By using solar to generate steam, Oman can save up to 80% of the gas currently used for EOR. The gas saved can be exported as LNG, boosting Oman’s export revenue, or as power and feedstock for new factories, generating jobs and diversifying the local economy.

GlassPoint Solar

Instead of burning natural gas for steam injection in Oman, they are exporting it or using it in Oman for other purposes.

This is one of the few actually logical major uses of solar power I have ever seen, outside of the space program.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be workable anywhere where there isn’t a whole lot of land available…

Oman = Desert = Lots of space for solar panels mirrors.

I haven’t found a source stating the area that the solar panels mirrors cover; but a 7 MW natural gas-fired power plant would take up a fraction of the space.

In places like the desert, this is a good idea. GlassPoint is also working on a 1 GW thermal solar plant in Oman… Enabling the sultanate to produce and sell more oil and natural gas… An actual win-win-win.

  1. More crude oil produced… Win.
  2. More natural gas sales… Win.
  3. More GHG emissions… Win.

The Solar Powered Oil Field

Funny thing… I Googled solar powered drilling rig and it returned a lot of bizarre links.

  • A $235.84 solar-powered model of a drilling rig from Walmart
Solar Made OD-8 Oil Derrick… A $235.84 bargain from Walmart!
  • “The Solar Powered Oil Rig” from Breaking Energy… An article that had nothing to do with oil rigs.  It was about the GlassPoint Solar project in Oman.
  • “Offshore Solar Energy” from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management… The Sun actually shines during the day over the oceans.  Who would have guessed?
  • A Quartz article about the GlassPoint Solar project in Oman.
  • “Using solar power to drill for…oil?” from CNBC also had nothing to do with drilling for oil.  It was another article about the GlassPoint Solar project in Oman.
  • A serious link about the actual utility of using solar power in oilfields for meters, pumps, remote telemetry, valve control and lots of other ancillary functions.
  • “Dallas firm uses solar to power West Texas oil rigs” from the Dallas Business Journal… An article that has nothing to do with drilling rigs.  It’s about using solar panels for meters, pumps, remote telemetry, valve control and lots of other ancillary functions “at remote locations where electric utility service is unavailable.”
  • “THE SOLAR POWERED OIL RIG”… A basically blank webpage from GlassPoint Solar.
  • “Solar Powered Oil Rigs” from A Moment in Science… Using solar panels and rechargeable batteries for hazard lights on offshore platforms.

That’s what was on the first page of the Google search.  I didn’t bother to look beyond the first page.  I decided to check with a reliable source: The American Association of Petroleum Geologists… Lo and behold, I found this 2017 AAPG Search and Discovery paper:

Solar Power for Sustainable Offshore Petroleum Exploration and Production in Africa*

Samuel Tawiah 1, Solomon Adjei Marfo 2, and Daniel Benah Jnr 2

Search and Discovery Article #42027 (2017)**

Posted March 20, 2017

*Adapted from extended abstract prepared in conjunction with oral presentation given at AAPG/SPE 2016 Africa Energy and Technology Conference, Nairobi City, Kenya,

December 5-7, 2016

**Datapages © 2017 Serial rights given by author. For all other rights contact author directly.

1 Department of Petroleum Engineering, University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, Western Region, Ghana (

2 Department of Petroleum Engineering, University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, Western Region, Ghana


A substantial percentage of Africa’s upstream petroleum activity occurs offshore in high risk environments with attendant environmental concerns. Power demands on offshore rigs are met principally through the use of diesel engines and gas turbines. This adds to the already high safety hazards and environmental threat through greenhouse gas emissions, heat, and noise generation. Additionally, petroleum generated power is an expensive venture that can have significant impact on oil and gas project economics. Moreover, some of these offshore locations are so remote that accessibility to petroleum fuel may be challenging.


AAPG Search and Discovery

Tawiah et al., evaluated the possibility of using solar power on an FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) Vessel.  An FPSO is basically a large ship-shaped vessel used to produce oil in deepwater where pipeline access is infeasible.

FPSO (RigZone)

Due to the vast area required and low output of solar panels, they only evaluated the feasibility of powering the living quarters of an FPSO…

Solar Panels Required to Replace Fossil Fuels

To be able to estimate the possibility of replacing fossil fuels with solar power, the number of panels required was calculated. Due to the low outputs of solar PV cells, the calculation was made for only the living quarters.


Thus at least 5542 solar panels will be required to produce the power needed for the living quarters assuming no losses.

The dimensions of solar panels vary but most are in the range of 1.6 m by 0.9 m giving an area of 1.44 m2.  Thus for 5542 modules;

Space required = 5542 * 1.44 m2= 7980 m2

Therefore 7980 m2 will be required for the PV modules alone without spacing between them.

Nearly 8,000 m2 of solar panels would be required just to power the living quarters.  That’s just under 2 acres.  The flight deck of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier covers about 4.5 acres.  Most FPSO’s do have about 2 acres of deck space; but almost all of it is occupied by essential equipment, machinery and modules…

FPSO (RigZone)

A solar-powered FPSO would only be capable of comfortably housing its crew and doing their laundry.


While solar power may have some utility in oilfield operations, the net impact of solar power on oil and gas production will inevitably lead to higher “GHG” emissions because:

  1. Any oil or gas not consumed in operations would be sold and consumed elsewhere.
  2. It would only be used to the extent that it saved money, enabling more oil & gas production.
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July 19, 2017 6:52 am

The ship could tow a 5 acre barge behind itself. What could possibly go wrong there?

July 19, 2017 6:59 am

What’s with that Wal-Mart model.
A drilling rig and a pump hooked up to the same hole?????

Mark form the Midwest
Reply to  MarkW
July 19, 2017 7:12 am

Never under-estimate the Rube Goldberg Zen of gadget designers.

Rich Lambert
Reply to  MarkW
July 19, 2017 10:50 am

Years ago the derricks were not mobile as they are today. They were left in place after the well was drilled and used to service the pump at the bottom of the drill hole.

Stan Bennett
Reply to  MarkW
July 19, 2017 12:02 pm

If you look it is only the derrick on the well. It once was common to leave the derrick on the well as derricks were not highly portable and workover rigs only had a winch so the derrick was needed if additional work was required. This was common in NY, PA WV and Ohio. It was also observed in older fields in the Midwest, Rockies and California. Also, Solar – all offshore platforms have solar panels to power navigation warning lights. The big problem? Bird dung!

Reply to  David Middleton
July 19, 2017 8:39 am

Agree !00%. Anyone can calculate a number, but it takes an engineer to show you just how big a sh*t load that really is. The roughly 8000 square meters of solar panels will cover half of the largest FPSO ever built, an will only provide power for the crew, not anything else.
Such realizations by these morosphs should be extremely embarrassing.
Years ago an radio/electronic scientist calculated the size of an antenna array she wanted to place on a naval ship.
She was sidelined after I pointed out that her antenna was bigger than the ship.

Thomas Homer
July 19, 2017 7:16 am

“Nearly 8,000 m2 of solar panels would be required just to power the living quarters. That’s just under 2 acres.”
How many people are living in the living quarters this power would support?
2 acres per ? people – once we have that we can calculate the acreage requirements to power Manhattan’s living quarters.
I agree there are “logical major uses of solar power”, and we should pursue those, but it is not scalable for general human consumption.

Reply to  Thomas Homer
July 19, 2017 8:54 am

A quick search of FPSO crew sizes indicates that a compliment of around 70 (crew and officers) is needed on each ship.
That would indicate that 114 m2 of solar panels would be required per crew member to provide life support.
A residential home of 185 m2 (2000 ft2) would only have enough area to support 1.6 occupants.
High rises in Manhattan…fuggedaboutit…(for foreigners that is NewYorkese for: forget-about it)

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 10:33 am

It was listed as the total crew:
Looking at other websites for crew replacements appears as though the job descriptions are for a complete operational crew.

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 20, 2017 5:55 pm

My of grid home supports all who live here with 10 sq. Meters of panels. We do use propane for the hot water system and cooking so maybe that’s where the difference is.
Wonder what they do when the sun goes down? Sleep? Batteries for 8K worth of panels would be some kind of ballast.

Bruce Cobb
July 19, 2017 7:23 am

Only in warped GreenEconomics is lowering energy costs necessarily a win. It is only a win if it lowers all costs. But businesses don’t need Greeny or indeed anyone’s “help” in that department.

July 19, 2017 7:29 am

Having worked in the Middle East and having had a few solar plants around me, please let me comment on one of the points you make (not a correction, just a comment): “This is one of the few actually logical major uses of solar power I have ever seen, outside of the space program”…. nope, they get sandblasted within a year

Reply to  David Middleton
July 19, 2017 11:08 am

Sand blasting will only make the dust accumulation harder to remove. Powder-fine dust is a big problem in the Persian gulf region. It floats about even high enough above ground to cause ingestion issues in helicopter turbine engines even with their sophisticated filters. This green house roof may require daily sweeping.
Another question is: “What sort of glass are these greenhouses made from?”
Unless it is some sort of high transmissivity glass the losses will mount. Typical clear window glass has between 80-90% solar transmissivity. The glazing industry has been working hard to develop LOW solar transmissivity glasses. To reduce heat transfers into/out of buildings.
putting the solar collectors under a glass roof will put you between 10-20% losses from the start.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 20, 2017 5:59 pm

Yup, in my time living in Dubai, I never saw a star or the moon and the sun was a hazy bright spot. Everything gets coated with dust. About 1/4″ per week on my 22nd story balcony.
Yes, in case you’re wondering the ME sucks although Oman is kinda neat.

Navy Bob
Reply to  Francisco
July 19, 2017 8:06 am

Looks like the reflecting troughs are in glass greenhouses to protect them from sandblasting. Presumably the greenhouse glass panes get sandblasted eventually, but they may stay transparent long enough or be cheap enough to replace to make it economically worthwhile. I share most readers’ here skepticism about solar power, but this is still a pretty cool project.

Reply to  Francisco
July 19, 2017 8:09 am

… silicon sandblasted to silicon …

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 19, 2017 8:35 am

…silicon dioxide sandblasted to silicon dioxide…

Bryan A
Reply to  noaaprogrammer
July 19, 2017 7:00 pm

Now that’s a Sili Ca if ever there was one

michael hart
July 19, 2017 7:30 am

“Better regulation is certainly part of the answer, but a more progressive solution is to encourage energy companies to draw the energy they need to operate their aging oilfields from renewable sources such as solar, wind or geothermal,” Masnadi said.

No. No. Thrice No.
From an energy standpoint, if (if) oil is the most economic source of energy, then energy derived from oil is the best way to power oil field operations. The First Law of Thermodynamics still operates. Sure, there may be circumstances when local or grid-supply of electricity is unreliable and needs some other sort of backup, but that is best met with a reliable backup, which is….not solar or wind.
A given energy source is either the most economic, or it is not. There is, maybe, scope for argument about about which is best, but a source cannot simultaneously, in the same location, be the best and not the best.
This is just more special pleading by the unreliables industry, because they know that a few oil companies will put up some solar panels and windmills as green window-dressing.

Reply to  michael hart
July 19, 2017 9:01 am

Using an alternative fuel source from the one you are actually trying to sell does make sense if the alternative is less expensive than the commodity you are selling. It need not be necessarily more energy efficient, just lower in cost than the selling price of the product.

July 19, 2017 7:31 am

“I haven’t found a source stating the area that the solar panels cover”………
The full-scale project will comprise 36 glasshouses, built in succession and commissioned in modules of four. The first module will begin generating steam in 2017. Upon completion, the total project area will span three-square kilometres, an area equivalent to more than 360 football pitches.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 19, 2017 8:00 am

“the total project area will span three-square kilometres”………

Reply to  David Middleton
July 19, 2017 11:19 am


Reply to  David Middleton
July 20, 2017 6:06 pm

Just stick to the standard. Olympic swimming pool.

Bryan A
Reply to  Latitude
July 19, 2017 7:03 pm

That is roughly the same size as the one of the Ivanpah facility’s individual units

Gary Pearse
July 19, 2017 7:33 am

In a place like Oman, they could elevate the panels and plant tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. in the shade beneath. Being able to use the space on the vast amounts of land that is otherwise sterilized by the panels would make them more economically friendly and utilitarian in places where they have an abundance of sun. I think it was Alan McCrea – who had the idea that a cluster of a few windmills could be useful in remote areas for Ev charging networks if (when? ) electrification of transportation comes to be widespread. Ditto a moveable windmill cluster for electric pumping of oil, etc.
This is the trouble with ‘thinkers’ blinkered by obsession with CO2 hysteria – linear thinking, or even delight in blighting the landscape and impoverishing and constraining of society. Similarly, on the sceptical side, the smug idiocy of the planet saviors, has turned reasonable folk away from these ridiculous “toys” and instruments of suppression. We should see if something useful can be salvaged from this Trillions of dollars boondoggle.
I give these otherwise activist researchers a passing grade for even having the thought of employing renewables to make fossil fuel production more efficient. They are thinking outside of an almost impregnable steel-strapped box. Maybe the idea came out of desperation with the new Manhattan sheriff in town! But it’s a start.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 19, 2017 12:29 pm

Er…The Omani oilfields are out in the Rub-al-Khali (“the Empty Quarter”) one of the world’s most extreme deserts. Not a good place to plant tomatoes.

Bryan A
Reply to  Gary Pearse
July 19, 2017 7:06 pm

Problem with planting crops beneath solar farm panels is that the crops need regular watering and the mists of watering mixed with the dusts of the desert will detract from the total maximum output of the solar panels

Reply to  Bryan A
July 31, 2017 5:02 pm

And, of course, tomatoes are the absolute worst crop to attempt under the shade of solar panels.

July 19, 2017 7:56 am

Solar steam has the advantage that you can run a generator or use the steam for an industrial process and then use the extra heat for another purpose, like heating a building for instance.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels generate a lot of waste heat that just degrades the efficiency of the panels. You could cool the panels and use the heat but that would require a bunch more stuff. Nobody does that because it isn’t economical.
There is the possibility that generating electricity using solar steam is quite a bit more efficient than PV. That reduces the cost of the supporting structure, which is a major part of the system cost. On the other hand, the extra complexity and moving parts would probably offset that. It isn’t a totally stupid idea. link At this point, if I needed electricity for my lonely log cabin 500 miles from the grid, I would go with PV.

Reply to  commieBob
July 19, 2017 9:11 am

Solar/thermal power generation exists. Crescent Dunes near Tonopah, NV is one such example. Over 1,000,000 m2 to produce 110 mW.
Equivalent to 0.11 W/m2

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 9:12 am

Sorry, 110 MW (typo)

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 9:23 am

110 MW / 1,000,000m2 = 110 W/m2

0.11 is incorrect

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 9:37 am

correct, (fat fingers on the calculator)

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 9:42 am

What is interesting about Crescent Dunes is that if/when they can get it to run 24 hours, the 110 W/m2 becomes over 2.5 Kwh/m2

The 110 W/m2 is deceptive because some of that energy isn’t directly producing power, but is going into storage.

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 6:54 pm

You were right the first time – before the sun comes up to get things heated up again.

Bryan A
Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 7:12 pm

That takes 250 acres to produce 110 MW. The same space could house 40 – 1100 MW nuclear generators and produce 44,000 MW almost all of California’s daily need in that small space.

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 7:39 pm

Bryan A, you have forgotten to include all of the area needed to mine the uranium for the nuclear power plants.

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 7:41 pm

Bryan A, you have forgotten to include all of the area needed to mine the uranium for the nuclear power plants.

Bryan A
Reply to  rocketscientist
July 20, 2017 12:18 pm

David Dirkse,
Well then, we could also include ALL the area needed to mine ALL the materials that go into the processing and manufacture of the Solar Panels, Mirrors, and or Wind Turbine parts and pieces in their total land use per MW produced. Wind and Solar still look far worse at MW per acre and in the case of Wind Power, it is Acres per MW
Wind and Solar still are far more burdensome on land usage than Nuclear

July 19, 2017 7:58 am

Greens actually doing math? Correctly?

Berényi Péter
July 19, 2017 8:02 am

The country [Oman] is now exploring large-scale solar EOR projects to save valuable gas resources needed to fuel economic growth.
At the same time, more gas is needed for […] desalination […].
Solar EOR will free gas for economic growth

It is plain silly. If solar power is not economic for desalination, where the end product (fresh water) can be stored in great quantity cheaply, so it does not have to operate at night, when the sun is not shining, it is clearly good for nothing.
On the other hand, oil fields are supposed to work 7×24.

Reply to  Berényi Péter
July 19, 2017 9:44 am

Solar power is the primary source of desalination of water on Earth. From ocean to clouds to rain…been going on for millennia. It’s just that we can’t control it as we would prefer.

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 9:59 am

If solar powered desalinization were more expensive than oil fired desalinization, why is Saudi Arabia (where oil is plentiful and inexpensive) building this?

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 12:39 pm

David: Brownie points? How else can they get money from the Paris agreement?

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 12:42 pm

Saudi doesn’t get money from the Paris agreement.

Bryan A
Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 7:16 pm

For Saudis, Oil is their chief energy export, why would they use it for that purpose when they can sell it to everyone else and make use of the solar which they can’t sell

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 7:49 pm

Because solar is less expensive than oil for desalinization

Bryan A
Reply to  rocketscientist
July 20, 2017 12:22 pm

Because it is difficult to load solar energy onto a cargo ship and send it overseas

Reply to  Berényi Péter
July 19, 2017 12:36 pm

The oil fields are out on the desert where land is in practice completely free and useless for any other purpose.
Desalination happens along the coast where it might not be so easy to find space for solar PV, particularly not in Dhofar where the coastal strip is actually cultivable (practically unique for the Arabian Peninsula).

Chad Irby
July 19, 2017 8:19 am

I could see a certain use for solar to power pumpjacks (those big tilting pumps you see in producing oil fields), by running the smaller and lower-producing pumps on a “when it’s sunny” basis. There’s a lot of these machines out there, and the ones that are pumping “trickle” amounts from older fields could certainly benefit from power for just a few hours per day. A little pumpjack just needs 10 horsepower or so, so you’d need about 10 kilowatts of panels (to give some leeway in power draw).
That means about $40,000 worth of panels and hardware…

July 19, 2017 8:24 am

Further to David’s reply above, the cute thing about the Glasspoint Solar is that they house the whole thing inside greenhouses. Normally, when you heat water in a tower with reflected sunlight from mirrors, there are 2 problems: the mirrors get coated in dust and get sand-blasted; in order to handle wind and other conditions, they need to be quite robust, which means that the motors that rotate them (to position them in relation to the sun’s movement) do a lot of work. By housing inside a greenhouse (actually deploying Victorian era technology), the cleaning of exterior roofs and walls is simplified (easier than curved mirrors), and the mirrors can be light and thin, and therefore easier to rotate reducing power wastage.
For me, it is one of the few proper uses of renewable energy, and its happening in the oil patch.

July 19, 2017 8:28 am

It states “98% uptime” for their solar field. I assume that means that it is operable 98% of the time when the sun is shining. Most places have dust, which has to be removed from solar panels. What about sandstorms? And solar panels are hardly “sustainable” – they last about 20 years or so. However, the desert is about the only place where large amounts of solar can be, to an extent, a predictable (but not reliable) source of power.
Saving energy pumping oil wouldn’t seem to have much significance.

July 19, 2017 9:08 am

Posted at the previous article:
Hi David, you wrote:
“This is one of the few actually logical uses of solar power I have ever seen, Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be workable anywhere where there isn’t a whole lot of land available…”
Is it really economic? That is a huge and costly solar facility to offset a small gas-powered steam plant.
Does the energy input to create this plant equal or exceed its lifetime output?
Will it work in places where is less sun and more clouds?
How about locations where hailstorms are common, like Alberta?
I think a saline solar pond might work better and cheaper in more locations.
Best, Allan
Green Post script:
Clay pond liners do not work in saline solar pond because the high salt concentration collapses the clay double-layer (zeta potential) and the pond leaks, in time. Plastic pond liners are required.

Bob boder
Reply to  David Middleton
July 19, 2017 9:53 am

Your friend Griff?

Reply to  David Middleton
July 19, 2017 11:20 am

Does the energy AND THE DOLLAR input to create this plant equal or exceed its lifetime output?

Reply to  David Middleton
July 19, 2017 9:00 pm

EROEI is often of interest.
For example, some in-situ oilsands projects can have a positive economic return but a negative EROEI because natural gas is much cheaper on an energy basis that oil. However, if gas prices increase, these projects can quickly become uneconomic. This is worth knowing.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 20, 2017 2:56 am

David you wrote: “EROEI is never of interest”. I disagree.
One should know if one is recommending investment in a project with poor EROEI, because that project can quickly become uneconomic, for example if the relative price of natural gas vs. oil undergoes a major change, as has happened several times in recent decades.
Some in-situ oilsands projects are energy dogs that are only economic now because of cheap natural gas.
NEVER is a very big word, which is why I almost never use it. 🙂

Reply to  Allan M.R. MacRae
July 20, 2017 8:49 am

“No oil company is in business to generate an energy return on an energy investment.” That is true but trivial – we all know that.
But any competent energy company should know the true nature of its business, and its key risks.
Several of our current technologies are energy dogs, and are only economic because natural gas is so cheap for now (e.g. some in-situ oilsands) , or alternatively because they receive huge subsidies that can (and should) end at any time (e.g. most wind and solar power and some biofuels).

Reply to  Allan M.R. MacRae
July 20, 2017 9:16 am

On corporate risk:
Years ago I took a friend to lunch, after he told me his energy company was “going big into wind power”.
He told me about the huge subsidies they would receive for wind power generation – they would receive almost ten times the price of dispatchable gas-or-coal-fired power for wind power, which is non-dispatchable and often worthless due to lack of storage in the grid.
He agreed that wind power was only economic due to the huge subsidies, and I warned him that the subsidies would end, sooner or later. I also wondered how he, a highly ethical individual, could get involved in what was essentially a green scam, but I did not voice these concerns – there are limits to friendships.
This wind power division has now become a liability and has been spun off into a separate company, presumably to limit liability or to enable its quick sale.

July 19, 2017 10:00 am

Re whether this is economic, remember PDO, the operator is 34% Shell, 4% Total, 2% Partex and 60% Oman government. Shell, as the de facto operator, would want to boast its green credentials, which means “economic” may not be a driver.
Second, commenters here are suggesting it is solar panels. Wrong. It is concentrated solar power. Mirrors reflect sunlight to heat a liquid, which drives a turbine. It obviates a gas-driven generator, which would be supplied by gas from the field.

July 19, 2017 10:14 am

A high power magnafying glass is solar powered and can be used to burn this report up and heat the living quarters when it gets chilly at night…win…win

July 19, 2017 10:16 am

Correction: the generated steam is mostly for injection rather than power generation.

Steve Fraser
July 19, 2017 10:38 am

For some interesting data, including measurements of insolation in Oman, see
Turns out that the daily insolation varies over the year and by loocation from 3.64 KWh/m2 to 6.09 KWh/m2. In a facility of 3 square km, (3 million sq m) that calcs to a daily insolation power range of 10.92 GWh to 18.27 GWh. The performance really does depend on where the facility is located.
Anyone got an estimate of the Capital costs of such a facility?

July 19, 2017 10:39 am

Someday someone will actually cotton on to the impact of solar reflector fields on the biodiversity in the area. Massive areas of land changed dramatically by constructing the infrastructure associated with the solar panels has an equally massive impact on the associated organisms in the area. That the average Joe or Jane perceives a desert as a dead space is just simple ignorance. Yes, it’s not as biologically diverse as a rainforest but it’s far, far from dead. I’m not holding my breath of course since we quite happily ignore the impact on biodiversity of massive wind turbines. Woe be to any flying organism in the area, be it bird, mammal or insect. Until someone actually brings that to the forefront all these green plans will be viewed as favorable even though their environmental impacts are far greater than a small oil or natural gas powered plant.

Reply to  buggs
July 19, 2017 12:40 pm

The Rub al Khali in Oman is actually close to completely dead. It is a very extreme desert. There is a fairly strong bird migration through there though.

Brian R
July 19, 2017 12:02 pm

How does a solar power system exceed its “Name Plate” generation rating? I thought the rated output of any power generation system was just the theoretical maximum if it was run at 100% 24/7. In this case the sun shining the on it 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

July 19, 2017 12:04 pm

For actual reviews and articles of GlassPoint solar for Enhanced Oil Recovery see:
Economics of Steam Generation for Thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery, Charr et al. 2015
Review of Renewable Energy Technologies Utilized in the Oil and Gas Industry Choi et al. 2017
EY, Solar enhanced oil recovery: An in-country value assessment for Oman, Available:$FILE/EY-Solar-enhanced-oil-recovery-in-Oman-January-2014.pdf, (assessed 17 Dec 2016).
IPICA, Solar thermal: Downstream Upstream, Available:, (assessed 17 Dec 2016).
Glass Point Solar, Solar Energy for Oil Production, Available: (assessed 17 Dec 2016).
A. Gastli, Y. Charabi, and R. Al-Maamari, “Potential of solar Energy Applications in Oman’s Oil Industry”, The 20th Joint GCC-Japan Environment Symposium, UAE, pp. 1-24. 22-24 November 2011.

July 19, 2017 12:34 pm

Energy from weather—a delusion that just keeps going and going and going.

Reply to  Sheri
July 19, 2017 12:42 pm

Hydropower is energy from weather which works. Which is probably why greens hate it.

July 19, 2017 1:19 pm

What if the panels were able to be folded and stored somewhere inside of the ship during transport but then rolled out when needed? NASA uses this model on satellites and it would shade the rest of the ship making the deck a little cooler in hot climates life the Gulf of Mexico. Of course the bird poop on the panels would need to be cleaned regularly as someone above mentioned.
To be clear, I think the whole thing is a dumb idea with a payback period well beyond the realistic useful lifetime of the panels, but we should never underestimate the power of stupid people in large group.

July 19, 2017 5:18 pm

The Kapaia project is a combination 13MW SolarCity solar farm and 53MWh Tesla Powerpack station on the island of Kauai.
The solar farm is composed of 54,978 solar panels with 13 megawatts of solar generation capacity.
size of tesla solar farm:
45 acres = 45 football fields= 4500 meters by 2250 meters ( sorry rainforest, green bigots need clean energy, ask chinese how clean it is ) 

Tesla has also installed 272 of its large commercial battery, Powerpack 2, to store the solar energy to use at night.
how expensive it is, who knows: between 3 mill. and 70 mill.

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