Australian oil and gas major Santos has unveiled plans to convert 56 of its remote crude oil beam pumps to 100 per cent solar and battery storage, in the surest and perhaps most ironic sign yet that renewable energy is the cheapest – and not just the cleanest – way forward for all walks of industry.

The $16 million solar and battery rollout – 3.2MW of PV in total and batteries at each of the 56 sites across the Cooper Basin in South Australia and Queensland – has won $4.2 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency after a successful pilot installation.

Depending on the success of the roll-out, Santos plans to convert a a further 151 pumps across the Cooper Basin to solar and batteries, which – added to the initial 56 sites – would save 140 barrels of oil a day currently used to fuel the pumps.

Santos managing director and CEO Kevin Gallagher said the solar beam pump – born of the company’s own Energy Solutions team – was a “perfect demonstration” of the oil major’s strategy “to become Australia’s safest, lowest cost onshore operator in action.”

“The solar beam pump will reduce emissions and waste from oil production, saving 140 barrels of oil per day which is required to fuel the pumps, and instead will be sold for beneficial use,” he said.

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