Microturbine, Solar At Remote Oil Site

Capstone Turbine Corp. said that its Australian distributor recently commissioned a power system for Santos Limited, one of Australia’s largest independent oil and gas producers.

The project required Optimal Group Australia to deliver a stand-alone system to power the Tarbat Oil Production Facility in Southwest Queensland. Santos wanted to replace an aging reciprocating engine-based power system and incorporate a solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the site.

The new energy system consists of a C1000S Capstone microturbine rated 1 MW running on natural gas produced at the site. The system also includes a 250 kW solar array and Optimal’s proprietary Grid Stability Module (GSM) to stabilize the electrical load. The site sees significant load fluctuations resulting from cyclical electrical loads that fluctuate as much as 250 kW every eight seconds, Capstone said.

The system has cut the fuel requirements by 50% and as such is expected to reduce annual fuel costs for the facility by $1 million a year. As the system reduces Santos’ natural gas use by half, it also reduces the carbon emissions by half for the site, while also dramatically decreasing the annual system maintenance required, Capstone said.

In developing this solution, Optimal incorporated its GSM into the system architecture. The GSM is a rapid load response module incorporating proprietary ultracapacitors and conventional lead-acid battery storage. The capacitors rapidly charge and discharge, thereby absorbing the significant load fluctuation without losing the available energy.

“Capstone microturbines are well suited to address variable loads, but in this case, the frequency and the magnitude of the fluctuation required further mitigation,” said Darren Jamison, president and CEO at Capstone. “Incorporating the Optimal GSM smoothed the fluctuations to a level more suited to the long-term operation of the turbines.

“As a result, Optimal was able to offer not only a smaller and more efficient generation solution to Santos, but they were also able to incorporate solar PV to further reduce the customer’s cost of electricity and lower the carbon footprint.”

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