Solar-powered oil recovery plant starts up [video, photos]

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: