Solar energy is power from the sun's rays that reach Earth. Using photovoltaic cells made from silicon alloys, sunlight can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat and electricity. Steam generators using thermal collectors to heat a fluid, such as water, sometimes convert even higher amounts of solar energy into electricity.
Volatile oil prices have fueled interest in alternatives such as solar energy. Solar power can help alleviate capacity problems on local utility systems, especially during peak electricity demand periods. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the use of electricity generated by fossil-fueled power plants.
What Chevron Is Doing
Chevron Energy Solutions (CES), a Chevron subsidiary, is one of the nation's largest installers of solar energy systems for education institutions. Over the past decade, the company has developed hundreds of projects involving energy efficiency and renewable power for education, government and business customers in the United States.
- South San Francisco Unified School District – In 2012, CES launched the largest K–12 solar and energy efficiency program in California's San Mateo County, for the South San Francisco Unified School District. The project has provided nearly 100 local green jobs and is expected to reduce the district's utility costs by $20 million over the next 25 years. The project, anchored by solar panel arrays at 15 schools, is expected to produce 1.68 megawatts of electricity.
- Jurupa Unified School District – In 2012, CES and Jurupa Unified School District announced the completion of a 2.7-megawatt solar and energy efficiency program expected to reduce energy costs at 27 school sites and save the district more than $34 million. The project added solar photovoltaic panels mounted on parking and shade structures at nine campuses, replaced 400 air conditioning units, and upgraded more than 21,000 lighting fixtures.
- City of Concord – In 2012, CES completed a solar and energy efficiency program with the city of Concord that is expected to save taxpayers $18 million. A 200-kilowatt photovoltaic solar installation adjacent to the city's community pool is expected to offset 70 percent of the pool's energy demand.
- East Side Union High School District – At the East Side Union High School District in San Jose, California, CES installed one of the largest K–12 solar and energy efficiency programs in the United States. CES designed, constructed, operates and maintains the 7.1-megawatt system at 13 of the district's sites. Completed in 2011, the project is expected to save the district more than $43 million. The system lowers carbon dioxide emissions by more than 4,900 metric tons, equivalent to more than 800 football fields of pine forests. CES also provided teachers with curricula that promote energy consciousness.
- Chevron Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency – Located in Qatar, CES is guiding the work of the center, which supports research, demonstration and training in solar power and energy efficiency. In December 2012, we helped launch the country's first large-scale solar test facility. The facility will evaluate emerging solar technologies from around the world to determine those best suited to the climate of the Middle East.
At Chevron's global headquarters in San Ramon, California, CES installed a solar demonstration project designed to test current and emerging solar technologies for facility project planning and potential use at Chevron facilities.
Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) is a division of Chevron that identifies, evaluates and demonstrates emerging technologies. As solar technology advances, CTV is studying the latest methods that aim to harness the sun's energy.
- In October 2011, CTV launched a unique demonstration project to test the viability of using solar energy to enhance oil production. The Coalinga, California, project uses more than 7,600 mirrors to focus the sun's energy onto a solar boiler. The steam it generates is injected into oil reservoirs to increase production. The project is the largest of its kind in the world.
- In early 2011, CTV began operations at a 1-megawatt concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar facility at our molybdenum mine in Questa, New Mexico. Approximately 175 solar panels are installed on 20 acres (.08 sq km), making it one of the largest CPV installations in the United States.
- At the site of our former refinery in Bakersfield, California, we started Project Brightfield to test the performance of seven new thin-film technologies and a new crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology.
Updated: April 2013