Fossil fuels are a thing of the past. Even utility, coal, natural gas, and oil companies recognize the power of renewable energies, especially solar power. While the International Energy Agency (IEA) and U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) predict a slowing down of solar installation, all signs say that it’s not—especially with fossil fuel companies going green.
Oil and gas tycoon Shell is perhaps overly positive about the rate of change from fossil fuels to renewables like solar power. Their most recent reports anticipate energy usage to double from 2000 to 2050, even though efficiency has increased, mostly from digitization of the world and increase in population. Their goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 2070 to zero, with solar power being the dominant energy provider worldwide. It’s a daunting task that requires changing mindsets and tradition. But they’re putting their money where their mouth is. They’ve even acquired 44 percent of Silicon Ranch.
Fossil fuel companies have also been adopting solar systems for their operations. GlassPoint Solar created a technology that uses a solar thermal system instead of natural gas to help extract oil, cutting carbon emissions by 80 percent in the process. The solar system creates steam that loosens up the thick crude oil with its heat. They first tested the solar technology in 2011 with Berry Petroleum and soon after with Petroleum Development Oman in 2012, scaling it up in 2015.
GlassPoint also brought that technology to the Belridge oil field, operated by Aera, which is jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil. With the 850 megawatt solar thermal system, it will “offset 4.87 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year and avoid the emission of 376,000 tons of carbon.” That water used will be recycled and cleaned and put into the ground. They are also installing a 26.5 megawatt solar system to power operations. Holy smokes! There are even more oil companies going that way.
A sign of the times is that the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is powered by 80 solar panels! Fossil fuel indeed! A strip mine outside Pikeville, Kentucky, is going to be converted into a solar farm. Some coal companies are taking that shift well. Coalfield Development Co. is a non-profit dedicated to training coal miners in other fields—including solar—and contracting them out to solar companies, like Solar Holler. Solar is the future, and it’s already here.
Nearly every day, we hear of a utility company installing solar fields across the country. It’s cheaper in the long run than fossil fuels and certainly much cleaner. Some companies are doing so more aggressively than others, but it’s happening and maybe at a faster rate than we anticipated.
Don’t wait for utility company. Help Shell reach their amazing vision by going solar and be a part of the future…today!