Chevron is a world leader in developing and delivering energy from crude oil and natural gas, which will remain the world's predominant sources of energy for decades to come. But to meet the growing demand of developing economies, we will also need to develop non-traditional and renewable resources and save energy through efficiency efforts.
The skills we have honed during more than 130 years of finding, producing and delivering energy are essential as we work toward development of commercial-scale renewable resources. Our efforts are focused on research and development of renewable energy technologies that are scalable, sustainable and profitable.
Chevron is taking a pragmatic approach to renewable energy—pursuing and focusing on technologies that leverage our strengths. These include geothermal energy, advanced biofuels, solar and energy efficiency technologies. We conduct internal research and collaborate with governments, businesses and academia in researching and developing alternative and renewable energy sources. Through these partnerships, we share information and help to advance technology that can lead to more renewable energy for future generations.
Chevron is one of the world's leading producers of geothermal energy, supplying 890 megawatts of installed electricity-generating capacity in Indonesia and the Philippines. Our facilities provide enough energy to meet the needs of millions of people in these countries. Technologies and processes used in geothermal production have much in common with those for oil and gas. Chevron leverages its experience in reservoir characterization and safe and efficient drilling to produce this renewable resource created by the heat of the earth.
Energy Efficiency Business
We believe the most immediate and cost-effective sources of energy come from energy efficiency and conservation. Chevron Energy Solutions Co. (CES) is leading Chevron's efforts to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency for our clients and our own facilities. CES experts recommend facility upgrades and the incorporation of renewable and alternative energy sources. In the United States, CES is one of the largest solar installers in the education market.
In March 2012, CES completed a micro "smart" grid for Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail in Northern California. The grid combines energy efficiency with onsite renewable and clean power generation, energy storage and integrated system controls that allow the facility to seamlessly disconnect from the regional utility grid and supply its own energy needs. Included in the grid is California’s first megawatt-class hydrogen fuel cell cogeneration plant. The project is the result of a decade-long relationship between Chevron and Alameda County. It is saving county taxpayers more than $260,000 a year and offsetting more than 3,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Advanced Solar Technologies
Photovoltaic cells made from silicon alloys can convert sunlight into other forms of energy, such as heat and electricity. Steam generators using thermal collectors to heat water sometimes convert even larger amounts of solar energy into electricity. Solar power can help alleviate capacity problems on local utility grids and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the use of electricity from power plants that use fossil fuels.
Chevron's photovoltaic projects at Questa, New Mexico, and in the San Joaquin Valley, California, continue to test and evaluate solar technologies. The installation at Questa, for example, uses lenses to focus sunlight onto three-layer solar cells. Together these projects have produced 6.8 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy from their inception through the end of 2012.
Our unique solar-to-steam demonstration project, launched in 2011 by Chevron Technology Ventures in Coalinga, California, will help us learn how solar technologies can be used to enhance oil recovery. More than 7,600 mirrors direct the sun's energy onto a boiler to generate steam. The steam is injected into wells to enable the flow of oil. Through the end of 2012, the demonstration has produced 460,000 barrels of steam. The project will help determine whether solar thermal technology is viable to deploy in commercial-scale projects at other Chevron facilities.
Biofuels are one of Chevron's renewable energy focus areas. We believe that biofuels that complement conventional transportation fuels will play an increasing role in meeting the world's growing energy needs.
We are active in conventional, cellulosic and other advanced biofuels. Almost all of the gasoline Chevron sells in the United States contains ethanol, a conventional biofuel derived from edible sugars and starches. We also conduct research on cellulosic and other advanced biofuels, which limit our choice of raw materials to those that do not materially impact food or feed supplies.
Chevron and Weyerhaeuser Co., one of the world's largest forest-products companies, have a 50-50 joint-venture company, Catchlight Energy LLC, a focused on developing next-generation renewable transportation fuels from forest-based sources. Catchlight signed agreements to supply forest-based feedstock to a third-party conversion plant and to purchase biofuel blendstocks from that plant. Construction of the plant was completed in late 2012.
Looking to the Future
We believe alternative and renewable energy sources will play a role in meeting future energy demand—how large a role depends on many factors, including advances in technology, public acceptance and economic viability. That's one reason Chevron is a global partner of the Cleantech Open, which finds, funds and fosters entrepreneurs working to address energy, environmental and economic challenges. Our collaborative partnership helps bring emerging technologies together with companies to deliver the world's energy today and in the future.
Updated: May 2013