Pumping since the 1890s, Chevron’s California Coalinga field is one of the oldest in the nation. Steam injection in this particular area is required because the heavy crude oil produced at the field does not flow readily. After BrightSource Energy developed this technology, Chevron determined that heating water with sunlight could be more cost effective than heating it by burning natural gas to power a steam generator.
To support enhanced oil recovery efforts at Chevron’s existing oil field in Coalinga, Chevron contracted BrightSource to provide its proprietary solar technology for the 29-megawatt thermal solar-to-steam facility. In turn, through a competitive bid process, BrightSource selected PCL as their contractor to erect the structural steel tower and solar-powered boiler.
Due to the complexity of the project, safety performance was a key factor in the selection process. Constructing a vertical structural steel tower and solar boiler 327 feet in the air requires extensive planning and a solid safety plan. PCL was awarded the project based upon existing project controls systems, an outstanding safety record, a flawless reputation, and an impressive breadth of experience.
The project uses more than 7,600 mirrors to focus the sun’s energy onto the solar boiler, which produces steam that is injected into the ground to increase oil production. To date, this project is the largest of its kind in the world.