By Editors of Power Engineering
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, announced plans to build California’s largest solar energy project. The project, slated for development at the Belridge oilfield west of Bakersfield, will be the first of its kind in the world to use solar steam and solar electricity to power oilfield operations.
Belridge Solar will consist of an 850 MW 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.
Aera and GlassPoint plan to break ground on the Belridge Solar plant in the first half of 2019. The project is expected to start producing steam and electricity as early as 2020.
“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.
GlassPoint’s solar technology provides low-cost renewable energy for extracting heavy oil, which accounts for half of California’s crude oil production. 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, 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.
In 2011, GlassPoint unveiled its first commercial project with Berry Petroleum in Kern County. Following the success of the pilot project, GlassPoint scaled its technology overseas in Oman and is currently constructing Miraah, a landmark project with Petroleum Development Oman. Once complete, Miraah will produce over one gigawatt of peak thermal energy, making it one of the world’s largest solar plants of any kind.