The global oil industry is a major user of energy in extracting, transporting, and refining hydrocarbons.
We have previously reported on the potential for the practical use of solar energy in these operations, including both extraction and transport ("upstream") and refining ("downstream"), considering both the use of solar electricity from photovoltaic (PV) generation and the use of solar thermal energy in the form of steam from concentrating solar collectors. This work is available in the journal Energy (118:884-892) (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2016.10.107).
In this report we provide some further background on the solar technologies we considered for oil industry use, and update our previous assessments. The results show that potential solar thermal capacity ranges from 34 to 88 GWt in upstream operations, and from 42 to190 GWt in current downstream operations. Potential PV deployment ranges from 7 to 12 GWe in upstream operations and 17 to 95 GWe in current downstream operations. New developments are planned and underway in Kuwait; these new upstream and downstream projects collectively could use solar thermal capacity of 68 GWt and 3.2 GWe PV, and constitute a major fraction of the worldwide potential.