Merriam-Webster defines irony as “(1) :incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2) :an event or result marked by such incongruity.” This is a good example of irony: One of America’s biggest oil fields is using solar!
The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney reports that Belridge oil field near Bakersfield, California will now be partly powered by a major solar energy project. Belridge, one of the largest oil fields in the USA, will now be using solar energy to make its oil extraction process not only more effective, but also more environmentally friendly.
The oil field operator Aera Energy will work with GlassPoint Solar to produce the solar power. “Aera has traditionally used natural gas to heat up water to create steam. But Aera and GlassPoint will now use a large, 850-megawatt solar thermal array to evaporate the water that’s pumped into the ground to liberate more oil. The companies say this will offset 4.87 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year and avoid the emission of 376,000 tons of carbon. The water used emerges from the process of oil extraction itself and will be recycled and pumped back into the ground.”
The irony is that a producer of greenhouse gases is now using renewable energy to produce the fuels that emit greenhouse gases. “What these examples perhaps show most of all is that as renewable energy becomes more and more a part of our lives, it will also become increasingly integrated into more traditional energy systems.” (The Washington Post)