Oil and gas giant, Chevron Corporation  (NYSE:CVX) , has announced Project Brightfield--a banner under which the company will be testing and demonstrating several bold, next-generation solar technologies.
Based at an old oil refinery in Bakersfield, California, 7,700 solar panels have been placed over 18 acres, currently feeding approximately 740 kW into neighboring refineries and also the main grid.
However, the amount of generated electricity is not at the forefront of this project--at least not at the moment.
The former refinery site was re-purposed to test the performance of six emerging thin-film technologies and one emerging crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology, which were provided by independent solar companies.
Seven companies were chosen from a pool of 180 solar companies.
The Chosen Seven:
Abound Solar , MiaSolé  (one of the biggest participants), Schuco , Showa Shell  subsidiary Solar Frontier , Sharp  and Q-Cells  subsidiary Solibro  are represented. By bringing in German and Japanese photovoltaic brands, Chevron is obviously interested in taking a global approach to its solar challenges. Not to mention tapping into a market with a lot of potential.
Innovalight , the seventh company, is unique among the picks — known for its so-called “solar-ink.” It can actually print solar modules onto conductive surfaces, also sparing silicon, and making a diversity of new applications possible.
"By bringing together seven emerging solar technologies, Project Brightfield represents one of the most comprehensive solar energy tests of its kind and is an innovative approach to evaluating new technologies," said Des King, president of Chevron Technology Ventures. 
"Testing competing technologies side by side means that we can better understand their potential application at other Chevron facilities."
Project Brightfield  is slated to last three years — at the end of which, Chevron will decide on the technologies worth integrating into its facilities worldwide. During the trial itself, participating companies will be able to access data about how their technology is performing under different conditions, and how they stack up next to competitors and national averages.
This is the second time Chevron has re-purposed one of its refinery sites to foster renewable energy development. It also allowed 11 wind turbines to be installed on a former Texaco refinery site in Wyoming .
It is also looking to do the same in the future, developing a 1-megawatt concentrating solar array at a Chevron mining site in New Mexico by the end of this year .
Learn more about Solar on eBoom's Solar Energy  Learning Page.