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California Testing For New Solar

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Chevron tests emerging solar technologies in California

Chevron Corporation has announced the start of Project Brightfield, a demonstration of next-generation solar energy technologies in Bakersfield, California. The project, created on the site of a former Chevron refinery, will evaluate seven emerging photovoltaic technologies to help determine the potential application of renewable power at other company-owned facilities.


The former refinery site has been repurposed to test the performance of six emerging thin-film technologies and one emerging crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology, which were provided by independent solar companies.


"By bringing together seven emerging solar technologies, Project Brightfield represents one of the most comprehensive solar energy tests of its kind and is an innovative approach to evaluating new technologies," said Des King, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, the division of Chevron U.S.A. Inc. that identifies, evaluates and demonstrates emerging technologies. "Testing competing technologies side by side means that we can better understand their potential application at other Chevron facilities."


The 7,700 solar panels on the 8-acre site will generate approximately 740 kW of electricity. The produced power will be directed to the local utility grid as well as to Chevron's oil production operations at the Kern River Field.


"Chevron has operated in the San Joaquin Valley for more than a century. Throughout this time, our engineers have developed breakthrough technologies that have helped make us the leading oil and gas producer in the state," said Bruce Johnson, vice president of Chevron's San Joaquin Valley Business Unit. "The Brightfield solar demonstration facility is a clear example of Chevron's efforts to find ways to integrate innovative technologies into our business."


The companies demonstrating thin-film technologies are Abound Solar, MiaSole, Schuco, Solar Frontier, Sharp, and Solibro, while the crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology is provided by Innovalight. Each solar company can access data about its technology, find out how well it performs in various conditions and compare it against a benchmark solar technology -- a brand of commercially available solar photovoltaic technology -- that has also been installed on the site.


Project Brightfield is Chevron's second completed project that repurposes an existing asset to integrate renewable power. The first was a wind farm on a former Texaco refinery site near Casper, Wyoming, where 11 wind turbines generate 16.5 megawatts of power. A third project -- a concentrating solar photovoltaic installation at a Chevron Mining Inc. facility near Questa, New Mexico -- is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010.

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