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Potential solar energy use in the global petroleum sector

Wang, Jingfan, O'Donnell, John, Brandt, Adam R.
Energy 2017 v.118 pp. 884-892
greenhouse gases, heat, latitude, models, oil fields, oils, petroleum, primary energy, refining, solar energy, uncertainty, Canada, Central Asia, Russia
We examine the potential for solar energy in global oil operations, including both extraction and transport (“upstream”) and refining (“downstream”). Two open-source oil-sector GHG models are applied to a set of 83 representative global oil fields and 75 refinery crude oil streams (representing ∼25% of global production). Results from these models are used to estimate per-barrel energy intensities (power, heat), which are scaled to generate country-level demand for heat and power. Multiple solar resource quality cutoff criteria are used to determine which regions may profitably use solar. Potential solar thermal capacity ranges from 19 to 44 GWth in upstream operations, and from 21 to 95 GWth in downstream operations. Potential PV deployment ranges from 6 to 11 GWe in upstream operations and 17–91 GWe in downstream operations. The ranges above are due to both per-bbl variation in energy intensity, as well as uncertainty in solar resource quality criteria. Potential solar deployment in upstream operations would displace a much smaller fraction of upstream energy use because a large fraction of global upstream energy use is are either offshore or in high latitude regions (e.g., Russia, Canada, Central Asia).