Chevron tests solar technologies in Bakersfield

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The Chevron logo is displayed at a Chevron gas station Jan. 29, 2010 in Alameda.

A demonstration energy project in Bakersfield aims to figure out which of several technologies works best to convert energy from the sun into usable power. KPCC's Molly Peterson reports on an announcement by the Chevron company.

Think of Chevron's project as an 8-acre science experiment. The test the company's announced includes sevent kinds of solar panels – 7,700 altogether – that different companies have developed.

Six of them demonstrate thin-film photovoltaic panels. Thin film technology uses semiconductor material like silicon spread out microscopically in a sheet to convert the sun's energy to power.

The seventh uses incredibly tiny crystals of silicon to do the same thing. All seven of the different solar companies have the same conditions under which they can prove how much energy they generate.

Chevron plans to compare their performance to an eighth technology, a commonly available solar panel like the kind many southern Californians have on their roofs. The company will use the energy produced to power Kern River Oil Field operations. Chevron will sell extra energy back into the grid.

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