I'm not sure how I missed this -- probably too busy making my case for high-speed rail -- but energy giant Chevron in March kicked off Project Brightfield, a test of seven next-generation solar energy technologies in Bakersfield, California.
Built upon the site of a former Chevron refinery, the project will evaluate several emerging photovoltaic technologies to determine what kind of renewable power the company will use at its facilities.
Under evaluation are six emerging thin-film technologies and one emerging crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology.
Some 7,700 solar panels installed on the eight-acre site will generate approximately 740 kilowatts of electricity, to be used by Chevron's oil production operations and the local utility grid.
The companies demonstrating technologies include:
Each company has access to metrics revealing how well their products perform in various conditions and compared to a benchmark solar technology also installed on-site.
This isn't Chevron's first go-around in converting a fossil-fuel site into renewable power lab. The company first converted a former Texaco refinery site near Casper, Wyoming into a wind farm with 11 wind turbines that generate 16.5 megawatts of power.
A third project -- a concentrating solar photovoltaic installation at a Chevron Mining Inc. facility near Questa, New Mexico -- is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010.