Energy production has been a part of Kern County’s economy for over 100 years. Since the discovery of oil in the Kern River Field in 1899, Kern County has not only led the state in energy production, but also in technological innovation. In addition to producing the majority of California’s oil and gas, Kern County is recognized as the wind capital of the world, hosting some of the first (and currently the largest) commercial wind energy installations in the nation. Kern County hosts the largest commercial solar project in the United States as well. As focus grows among global, national and regional institutions to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases like CO2, the next emerging technologies in energy are those that provide carbon-free energy for sectors that cannot easily use wind or solar, as well as technologies that can trap CO2 – emitted from plants and factories, or directly out of the air – and store it deep underground, helping to combat the already emerging impacts of climate change.
Geology isn’t Kern County’s only strength, though. The county is home to an established workforce in industries that have directly transferable skills in carbon management and clean energy. Furthermore, Kern County is strategically located along national rail and highway corridors and within the nation’s largest agricultural producing region. This range of assets—geology, geography, and skilled industry workers—makes Kern the perfect place to explore the new frontiers of the twenty-first century energy transformation.
In Spring 2022, Kern County was among the inaugural group of recipients for the Communities LEAP (Local Energy Action Program, or C-LEAP) technical assistance grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The purpose of this grant is to carry out a pre-feasibility assessment of developing a Clean Energy and Carbon Management Business Park within the county, with the aim of informing investors and communities of the opportunities of carbon management, clarifying the costs and benefits in these emerging industries, and providing a roadmap for private sector investment in new and innovative carbon management technologies that are best suited for the region.
This website, and the accompanying report, represents the outcome of that pre-feasibility analysis. Through our interactive site map, you can explore a variety of technologies that could feasibly be incorporated into a carbon management and clean energy business park, and get a preview of how the technology works, how it might benefit from co-location with other technologies in a shared industrial space, and what impacts and benefits such a technology would have on the regional community and environment. The downloadable report provides an in-depth analysis of each of these features, with detailed citations to allow interested readers to explore these subjects further.
Please note, the purpose of this analysis is not to endorse any carbon management technology or specific business park configuration for development in Kern County. The purpose of the website and report is to provide a useful synthesis of relevant information to stakeholders, developers and planners in the Kern County community, to ensure that they have a holistic understanding of these novel industries. With such a resource, private investors and local stakeholders will be better equipped to plan how the region’s energy economy should grow in a well-informed and transparent manner.
The purpose of this C-LEAP grant was to answer a question: could the development of a large-scale carbon management and clean energy business park that is co-located near carbon capture and sequestration sites provide new jobs and revenue to Kern County, while also repurposing challenged agricultural lands? If so, what types of industries would be best suited for such a park, and what considerations should be taken into account in whether, where and how much to develop?
Kern County’s Department of Planning and Natural Resources is leading the project, and developed a hypothetical framework for such a park: envisioning a 30 million square foot park on 4,000 acres, with another 30,000 acres dedicated to solar power, that would be sited far from urban areas, in fallowed farmlands that are no longer viable for agriculture due to changes in state groundwater use policies. The park would be closely situated to areas that are already processing EPA Class VI well permits, allowing regional infrastructure to work together. Proximity to rail and interstate highways would provide connections with nearby transportation hubs like Los Angeles and Stockton, expanding Kern’s economic opportunities in clean energy production, and helping create new jobs and training opportunities to lift up workers in local communities.
Blue Engine Strategies was contracted by Kern County’s Department of Planning and Natural Resources to gather and synthesize information about a suite of industries that could potentially be co-located on such a park. Each industry type was examined through a set of 4 lenses: technological, societal, environmental and economic. The information summarized on this website and detailed in the downloadable report was collected through the following methods:
The sources of all information presented on this website are detailed in the downloadable report.Download Report
For more information about energy transformation in Kern County, please visit
the Kern County Department of Planning and Natural Resources website.
For more information about this project, we invite you to
explore the interactive site map,
view the comparative analysis charts for carbon management industries,
visit our FAQ page, or
download the full report.