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An Environmental Dilemma: Using Sunlight to Harvest Petroleum

By Allison Bond
Aug 26, 2009 2:49 AMNov 5, 2019 8:53 AM


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Looking for an example of irony? Here's one, compliments of the oil industry: A solar-powered oil field. Yes, that's right—sunlight will be used to make the petroleum easier to extract on a Chevron oil field, instead of the natural gas that traditionally does the job. The New York Times' Green Inc. blog reports:

The 100-acre project’s 7,000 mirrors will focus sunlight on a water-filled boiler that sits atop a 323-foot tower to produce hot, high-pressure steam. In a conventional solar power plant, the steam drives a turbine to generate electricity. In this case, the steam will be injected into oil wells to enhance production by heating thick petroleum so it flows more freely.

Is using alternative energy to fuel oil production a step in the right direction? Seems like power produced by solar technology could perhaps be used a liiiittle more efficiently. Related Content: Discoblog: Can Scientists Really Turn Seawater Into Jet Fuel? Discoblog: Brazilians Urged to Pee in the Shower to Conserve Water Discoblog: Could Potholes Power Your Honda?

Image: flickr / richardmasoner

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