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Sierra Daily

Feb 25, 2011

World's Weirdest Use for Solar Power

We learn via Green, the New York Times' energy and environment blog, two amazing things:

#1--The California company GlassPointSolar is building a solar facility in Kern County, the steam from which will be used to extract the last drops of oil from a depleted oil field.

#2--Perverse as that may sound, this is actually a plus for the environment insofar as the usual method for producing steam to extract the last drops of oil from depleted oil fields is to burn natural gas. In fact,

Rod MacGregor, GlassPoint’s chairman, said that burning natural gas to make steam for oil recovery was the largest single use of natural gas in California. About 40 percent of California’s oil is produced through such “enhanced oil recovery,” and the steam can account for as much as two-thirds of the production cost of such oil, according to GlassPoint. The amount of steam needed to produce a barrel of oil varies according to the age of the field, but two million B.T.U. per barrel is typical.

Emphasis added just because it is such a mindblowing factoid. Too bad we can't just use all that solar power and natural gas to get beyond oil.

--Paul Rauber

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