Once complete, the project (called Miraah, Arabic for mirror) will span a total of some 190 ha across the desert oilfield, making it the biggest solar project in the world. The greenhouses will be produced in-house in the Netherlands, and KUBO will deliver the first 20 ha of greenhouses this spring. Unlike all other solar technologies, the project encloses large curved mirrors inside a greenhouse, protecting the solar collectors from high winds, sand and dust common in desert oilfields. The generated solar energy goes to PDO (Petroleum Development Oman). PDO is the largest oil producer in Oman and a joint venture between the Sultanate of Oman, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Partex. At its peak, this solar plant will be capable of producing more than one gigawatt of solar thermal energy.
In July 2015, GlassPoint Solar, partner of KUBO, announced a partnership with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO). The project they are now developing will use solar energy to generate steam used to produce heavy oil. The steam heats the oil, so it’s easier to pump to the surface. Currently, steam is generated by burning natural gas, a heavy contributor of carbon emissions.
In partnership with GlassPoint and other partners, KUBO has made a successful technology crossover between horticulture and oil production. Smart and sustainable technologies used in horticulture are now being applied to solar powered oil production. Examples include the use of deck wash robots, high-tech greenhouse technology and overpressure and filtration systems to prevent moisture and dust from entering the greenhouse.
Besides Shell, this project has a further Dutch connection. KUBO, the innovative greenhouse builder from the Westland region of the Netherlands, has been a partner from the start of the project and has now been commissioned to deliver the required greenhouses.
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