US oil major Chevron has found a novel use for solar power, namely to pump oil from its Lost Hills field in California, which produces 7,981 barrels per day.
While some environmental purists will point to the apparent irony of using renewable power to transport fossil fuels, the pipeline would likely otherwise be entirely powered by electricity from non-renewable sources. What’s more, petroleum will remain part of the energy mix for the foreseeable future. Oil will also continue to be needed for other products, such as making compressor oil for Chevron’s range of Texaco lubricants.
Much of the oil industry is moving toward renewables, with many companies looking at renewable energy as a way to help their oil-production operations achieve net-zero emissions. With the cost of renewable energy having dropped significantly in recent years, it also makes economic sense.
A spokesperson for Chevron, Veronica Flores-Paniagua, said in an email to Bloomberg:
“Electricity is one of Lost Hills field’s largest operating expenses, so having solar will be an important factor to help keep those costs down and maintain the planned oil field life.”
The general manager for renewable power at Chevron Pipeline & Power, Telisa Toliver, hinted there could be similar projects, saying:
“We see this business model for us as something we hope to replicate.”
The solar plant supplying the Lost Hills field provides around 80% of the field’s power needs, which in terms of emissions, equates to about 4,000 fewer cars on the road.