Brightsource Energy's solar facility concentrates light onto a tower to make steam. (Credit: Brightsource Energy)

Chevron disclosed plans to use concentrated solar thermal technology from Brightsource Energy to enhance oil recovery from an aging well in central California.

That’s right. They are using the solar energy to make it easier for them to get at the fossil fuels. But at least they are making the process, itself, greener.

The system will use 7,000 mirrors on Chevron-owned land to reflect light onto a tower to make steam. The steam will be pumped underground to heat up heavy oils and make them easier to extract, according to a Reuters report. Right now, Chevron uses natural gas to make steam.

CST has emerged as one of the most cost-effective solar technologies for utility-scale solar projects. Using mirrors or reflective troughs, sunlight from desert areas is concentrated onto a liquid that makes steam. In a power plant, that steam turns a turbine to make electricity.

Production on the plant in Coalinga, Calif., is slated to begin by the end of 2010.