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Pumping Oil with Sunshine [Slide Show]

New thermal plant uses a greenhouse to make solar steam cheap

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FULL SCALE:

In this computer rendering, a larger scale, four-acre greenhouse-based solar thermal steam plant nestles among the derricks and other oil-producing equipment in the California countryside.....[ More ]

SOLAR FIELD:

Such solar thermal steam systems can be built quickly and cheaply, according to GlassPoint, and produce steam at roughly $3 for every 1 million British thermal units of heat delivered.....[ More ]

HOT WATER:

Once in place, the mirrors concentrate sunlight on a receiving tube full of water—blazing white with sunlight here—which is connected to the steam system for the oil field.....[ More ]

GREENHOUSE PROTECTION:

Oil fields are a dirty place and the greenhouses protect the mirrors from the grime—as well as the wind, which allows the mirror set up to weigh only 10 percent of a typical solar thermal mirror installation.....[ More ]

HANGING BY A THREAD:

The seven-meter-across, shaped aluminum mirror hangs from the receiver tube it will concentrate sunlight on and pivots around that tube to follow the sun, continually heating the water inside throughout the day.....[ More ]

QUICK CONSTRUCTION:

All told, building the greenhouse and installing the mirrors on this demonstration plant in McKittrick, Calif. took six weeks.....[ More ]

SOLAR MIRRORS:

The mirrors for this greenhouse-based solar thermal power plant are made from a special aluminum material—similar to that used in commercial lighting fixtures—that is thicker than foil but thinner than a can.....[ More ]

SUNSHINE AND OIL:

The new greenhouse-based solar thermal power plant pictured here will uses its heat to help pump more oil out of the ground.....[ More ]

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