Aera Energy, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, and GlassPoint Solar, the leading supplier of solar energy for the oil and gas industry, have broken ground on California’s largest solar energy project. Located at the Belridge oilfield west of Bakersfield, the integrated solar project will be the first of its kind in the world to use solar steam and solar electricity to power oilfield operations, efficiently reducing the field’s carbon emissions. Once complete, the Belridge Solar project will deliver the largest peak energy output of any solar plant in California and is expected to be operational next year.
“Aera is committed to safe, responsible operations and is thrilled to extend our environmental leadership by using solar to power our production. Adding solar energy at Belridge allows us to continue to lead the way in the safest, most environmentally responsible energy extraction there is,” said Aera Energy President and CEO Christina Sistrunk.
- Belridge Solar will consist of an 850 MWt solar thermal facility, producing 12 million barrels of steam per year, and a 26.5 MWe photovoltaic facility that will generate electricity. The solar-generated steam and electricity will reduce natural gas currently used onsite in oilfield operations.
- The facility is projected to save more than 376,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, offsetting the equivalent of 80,000 cars.
- The project is also creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs in California throughout the oil and gas supply chain and supporting industries.
“By harnessing the power of the sun to produce oil, oil operators can efficiently reduce emissions using advanced technology, creating long-term benefits for the local economy and environment,” said Sanjeev Kumar, GlassPoint SVP, Americas. “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.”
Here’s how it will work, GlassPoint’s solar technology provides low-cost renewable energy for extracting heavy oil. Heavy oil is produced by injecting steam in to the reservoir to heat the oil so it can be pumped to the surface. This process, known as thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), typically generates steam using natural gas. By harnessing the sun’s thermal energy to replace the combustion of natural gas, GlassPoint is enabling Aera to reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint at Belridge.
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