Off-grid solar PV installations demonstrated their potential as a new growth area with capacity doubling from three megawatts in 2018 to seven megawatts in 2019. The off-grid nature of these projects shields them from the revenue risks associated with volatile market conditions and transmission congestion issues that the industry has faced in recent times. Fuel switching for resource sites is expected to remain a financially attractive option as renewables offer both a zero-cost fuel and zero carbon risk. The latter is an important consideration as consumers continue to demand low emissions intensive supply chains, placing pressure on large resource corporations to maintain low emissions operations.
Santos is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas production with an Australian-first rollout of 100 per cent renewable energy to power its oil wells in the remote Cooper Basin in South Australia and Queensland.
A pilot has been running at Limestone Creek in South Australia since August 2018 and uses solar cells and batteries to power the beam pump that brings oil to the surface from deep underground reservoirs.
Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher said the pilot had proven that solar PV and batteries can maintain reliability and availability in the harsh, off grid environment of the Cooper Basin.
“This nation-leading project is good for the environment, it’s good for reducing fuel consumption and it is good for the bottom line,” Mr Gallagher said.
“This was Australia’s first oil well running on solar and battery, and following the success of the pilot, Santos has converted 22 more wells to solar in 2019 with a total of 2.1 megawatts of capacity. A further 34 conversions planned for this year.”
The project will cost just over $16 million and received a grant of just over
$4 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s Advancing Renewables Program that supports a range of development, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment projects with the potential to provide affordable and reliable renewable energy in Australia.
Santos plans to commercialise this technology through supply chain and execution synergies that come with scale.
There are over 200 existing beam pumps across the Cooper Basin that could be converted and Santos aims to use solar power as the standard energy source for new onshore oil wells.
Converting oil well pumps to solar power will deliver environmental and commercial benefits by reducing crude oil consumption, long distance fuel haulage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning crude oil.
This content was provided by Santos.
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