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California-based Belridge Oil Field just Turned to an Unexpected Solar Power Source

siliconreview California-based Belridge Oil Field just Turned to an Unexpected Solar Power Source

GlassPoint Solar will supply Aera Energy, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, with an integrated solar plant that will be the first of its kind to use solar steam and solar electricity to power oilfield operations. It is claimed that the finished Belridge Solar project will deliver the largest peak energy output of any solar plant in California.

“Our partnership with Aera demonstrates the growing energy convergence where renewables and traditional energy leaders are working together to address some of the biggest challenges of our time,” said Sanjeev Kumar, GlassPoint SVP, Americas. Mr. Kumar was quoted on The Engineer.

Traditionally, Aera used natural gas to heat water to create steam. Now Aera and GlassPoint will use a large, 850-megawatt solar thermal array to evaporate the water that’s pumped into the ground to liberate more oil. The companies say this will offset 4.87 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year and avoid the emission of 376,000 tons of carbon. The water used emerges from the process of oil extraction itself and will be recycled and pumped back into the ground.

The project was made possible by the recent extension of California’s cap-and-trade system for carbon-dioxide emissions to 2030, said Christina Sistrunk, chief executive of Aera Energy, a company jointly controlled by Shell and ExxonMobil. Ms. Sistrunk was quoted on The Washington Post.

GlassPoint designs, manufactures and installs solar steam generators for the oil and gas industry worldwide. 

This is the second such megascale solar-oil project for GlassPoint, which is building the massive, 1-gigawatt Miraah project in Oman (a gigawatt refers to the capacity to instantaneously generate 1 billion watts of energy; a megawatt refers to the capacity to generate 1 million watts). The company said that the Belridge project will be the largest solar project in California.

The Belridge oil field has been producing oil for more than a century and last year produced about 76,000 barrels a day, according to Aera.

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