Applications of Photovoltaic Technologies in Oil and Gas Production
John Thornton1 and Brian Meidinger2
1 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
2 Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center, Casper, WY
Photovoltaics (PV), also known as electric power generated from the sun's energy, has long been used to power applications for the oil and gas industry. The first known oil and gas applications of PV are believed to have been for communications on offshore oil platforms during the 1970s.
Since then, PV has been used to provide power for many applications including cathodic protection, both on land and offshore; injection of corrosion inhibitors into oil and gas wells; control of oil and gas wells and pipelines; RTU/SCADA (Remote Telemetry Units/Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition); lighting; and communications. One of the newer applications is to use photovoltaic or wind power to pump gas and oil to reduce the use of diesel fuel or grid-supplied electricity.
In partnership with the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center (RMOTC) in Casper Wyoming, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been conducting experiments with a 500-watt photovoltaic array to ship oil from an intermediate collection point to a central collection point. The intermediate collection point stores oil from several stripper wells, collecting about 30 barrels per day. When sunlight is available, the oil is shipped to the central collection point. Several different system configurations have been tested to date.
The paper will describe the system configurations tested, the results of the experiments and future planned experiments. It will also recommend approaches for further development and testing of a pre-commercial system.