In a move that might seem oxymoronic on the surface, Chevron has plans to install a solar steam plant which will power one of their oil fields in Central California. The 29-megawatt power source uses 7,000 mirrors spread across 100-acres to focus light on a boiler tank sitting 323-feet high.
The plant, built by BrightSource Energy, will use the steam power not to generate electricity for the oil pumps, but rather to heat the underground oil so that it flows more efficiently. Under normal circumstances, oil fields just use oil or other fossil fuels to provide raw fuel necessary for steam production. So this is rather interesting (not to mention refreshing), to see oil companies not just recognizing the usefulness of green power, but embracing it as well.
BrightSource plans to use their solar steam technology to provide 2,610-megawatts of power to various California-based utilities and plans to complete the Chevron plant by the end of 2010. [via BrightSource via NY Times Green Inc.]