Over 70% of South Australia's demand today is supplied from renewable energy sources and is forecast to reach 100% by 2025, 7 years ahead of schedule. Large industries such as oil and gas have also transformed their vision to ensure utilization of renewable energy sources to provide a cost effective, clean and reliable day to day operations. This paper will therefore present a case study where renewable energy became the enabler for clean oil extraction and economic growth more broadly.

Renewable energy technologies have been at the forefront amongst South Australia's commercial and residential consumers. Large industries such as oil and gas have committed to green, clean methodologies to support their operations when extracting crude oil from wells. The use of solar and battery storage has presented an obvious solution given the proof and reliability of the technology to enable a reduction in carbon emissions and cost while extracting resources from deep wells. A pilot renewable energy off-grid project was successfully completed in South Australia and has proven successful which has now resulted in significant funding being allocated to convert an additional 56 sites.

The successful trial conducted in the State of South Australia allowed for oil pumps to be powered 100% using renewable energy which resulted in a reduction of CO2 emissions and operational costs incurred from the supply and transfer of fuel to the pumps. It is estimated that the adoption of renewable energy for oil extraction will result in an approximate saving of 140 barrels of oil per day which is currently used to fuel pumps and generators at these remote sites. Assuming an average price market of $50 (US) per barrel, this equates to $2.25m (US) per day with consideration to approximately 10% unavailability due to maintenance. The forecast saving of $2.25m (US) is intentionally calculated using market value to reinforce the potential additional revenue to be had from savings on oil consumption during the crude oil extraction process.

In addition to the above forecast savings, a further $70,000 (US) per annum could be saved purely from the use of diesel generators currently being used to supply pumps, this assumes the cost per generator is $190 (US) per day for operations excluding maintenance costs and associated overheads.

With the above in mind and the successful trials under way in Australia, there are a further 208 pumps which are currently in scope across the continent to be converted in an effort to reduce production costs, emissions and ensure a low maintenance operational strategy is in place as well as a low carbon strategy. (Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), 2019).

The financial savings above are forecast to increase with decreased requirements for high cost operational maintenance when compared to conventional sources being used to date in the oil industry.

When considering the financial viability of renewable energy solutions, in addition to the environmental and social benefits, it has been determined that for a single oil pump, the forecast payback period on investments made does not exceed 4 years.

Considering solar systems have a lifespan of 25 years, this means that the remaining operating of solar panels, that is in excess of 20 years will be solely revenue generating years. Taking also into account the 25 years of running for both systems, conventional vs. renewable energy, the forecast levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is $1.3 (US)/kWh vs. 14c (US)/kWh respectively.

This means over a 25-year period, with renewable energy it is forecast that the cost to maintain supply to oil pumps would be 10% of what it could be if conventional sources were used, notwithstanding the lack of electrical redundancy on site, associated maintenance costs and also the forecast reduction of carbon emissions per site.

By applying some of the analyses and key findings, it is necessary to see the oil and gas industries adopt renewable energy strategies to ensure low cost and reliable technologies for oil and gas productions and enable new opportunities for economic growth while ensuring continued commitment to address environmental and social challenges of tomorrow.

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