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Summary:

Chevron officially started up its solar-powered oil recovery facility in Coalinga, California on Monday. Here’s a video and photos of the plant, which uses tech from BrightSource.

Aerial view of Chevron, BrightSource solar oil plant

Aerial view of Chevron, BrightSource solar oil plant

Chevron officially started up its solar-powered oil recovery facility in Coalinga, California on Monday. We brought you these photos of the plant from blogger Ed Gunther back in August, but the solar tech provider BrightSource, and Chevron Technology Ventures (the division of Chevron behind the project) have released a video and its own official photos of the facility.

The 29 MW, 100-acre, solar plant will use BrightSource’s solar thermal power tower technology to produce steam, which will be used for enhanced oil recovery. Oil companies inject high-temperature and pressure steam into oil wells to access more oil. Not exactly clean, but a way to extend oil supplies.

The plant will use 3,822 heliostats (each have two 10 by 7 foot mirrors on 6-foot steel poles), and these heliostats focus the sun’s rays onto a central boiler that sits on top of a 327-foot tall tower. BrightSource is also in the process of building a much larger 392 MW, 3,600-acre, solar farm near Las Vegas, which will uses thousands of heliostats and three 450-foot towers.

The video:

The photos:

 
  1. It would be severely ironic for Chevron if their investment helped lower the cost of solar to the point where oil was no longer needed.

    …OK that’s not going to happen with this plant. When we get nearer to the price tipping point where the cost of solar is near the cost of fossil fuels though I can imagine oil producers who need huge amounts of electricity to refine the oil to petrol investing in a load of solar plants, and that investment then leading to a massive reduction in the cost of solar.

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  2. This project is $58M 0verbudget. Probably will become a launchpad for spacex in the future

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