Chevron Augments Oil Production with Solar Thermal Power

Chevron Augments Oil Production with Solar Thermal PowerChevron has approached oil production with a novel use of solar power.  Today, the company announced they demonstrated what thermal solar power can do with some mirrors in conjunction with oil production.

“Solar thermal” differs from “solar power” in that while both indeed mean power at the end of the day, the ‘thermal’ part of “solar thermal” is from many mirrors directed to one spot and usually used in the production of steam which can power a turbine.

In the case of Chevron, the demonstration had shown 7,644 mirrors directed at a boiler.  From the boiler, steam was generated from having thousands of mirrors building up heat which injected steam into oil reservoirs to increase oil production.

Chevron said in a company statement, “Through this demonstration, we want to determine the feasibility of using solar power for enhanced oil recovery,”  said Desmond King, president of Chevron Technology Ventures. “This technology has the potential to augment gas-powered steam generation and may provide an additional resource in areas of the world where natural gas is expensive or not readily available.”

The system demonstrated by Chevron consisted of 3,822 mirror systems with each one holding two 10′ by 7′ mirrors which were installed on top of 6′ foot tall steel poles.  All of the mirrors were directed at a 327′ foot tall solar tower which housed the boiler.  The demonstration site was quite large, being 100 acres in total size with mirrors on a 65 acre plot with 35 acres being dedicated to support facilities.

No word from Chevron if they intend to use this technology throughout the world at their oil production facilities or not, or whether it was simply a proof-of-concept trial demonstration as stated.