US-based oil and gas producer Aera Energy and GlassPoint Solar have agreed to jointly develop a 850MW solar thermal facility at the Belridge oilfield located west of Bakersfield in California, US.

The Belridge solar project features a solar thermal facility to produce steam as well as a 26.5MWe photovoltaic facility to generate electricity.

The project will produce 12 million barrels of solar steam annually and solar electricity which will be used to power operations at the oilfield. The field currently uses natural gas for its operations.

Aera Energy president and CEO Christina Sistrunk said: “Adding solar energy at Belridge allows us to continue to lead the way in the safest, most environmentally responsible energy extraction there is.”

“We are proud to be an active part of California’s low carbon future and lead the industry by adopting bold solutions to deliver valuable energy, more efficiently while protecting the environment.”

GlassPoint said that project will be designed to deliver the largest peak energy output of any solar plant in the state in addition to helping in reducing energy consumption and C02 emissions at Belridge field.

Ground breaking ceremony on the Belridge Solar plant is scheduled in the first half of 2019.

Planned to be commissioned as early as 2020, the project is expected to save more than 376,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.

GlassPoint Americas senior vice-president Sanjeev Kumar said: “By harnessing the power of the sun to produce oil, oil operators can efficiently reduce emissions using advanced technology, creating long-term benefits for the local economy and environment.”

Jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil, Aera Energy operates the Belridge oilfield, which has been producing for more than 100 years.

Said to be one of the largest onshore fields in the US, the field currently produces more than 80,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd).

Image: Illustration of the new Belridge solar project in the US. Photo: courtesy of GlassPoint Solar, Inc.