AGL today announced the completion of a landmark project under which 20 Santos oil wells in South Australia and Queensland will be powered by solar energy rather than crude oil.

Chief Customer Officer Christine Corbett said AGL’s Business Energy Solutions (BES) team had installed 1.2 megawatts (MW) of solar panels and more than 2 megawatt hours (MWh) of batteries over remote sites in the Cooper Basin.

“We’re proud to have worked with this leading Australian energy company by converting ‘beam pumps’ on oil wells to run on clean, renewable energy,” Ms Corbett said.

“AGL is helping hundreds of business customers find ways to reduce their energy costs across Australia.”

Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher said from an initial pilot well, the conversion project has been progressing above expectations.

“We created Australia’s first oil well running on solar and battery, off grid,” Mr Gallagher said.

“There are more than 200 existing pumps across the Cooper Basin that could be covered and ultimately Santos aims to use solar power as the standard energy source for new onshore oil wells.

“Converting oil well pumps to solar power will deliver environmental and commercial benefits by reducing crude oil consumption, long distance fuel haulage and emissions.”

AGL’s Head of Delivery Operations – Brendan Weinert said this world-first installation of a fully autonomous solar and battery-powered oil beam pump required AGL to adopt a different project delivery approach and overcome a number of challenges to deliver a technically and economically feasible solution.

“The solar and battery combination was sized to ensure continual operation 24 hours a day in some of Australia’s harshest climates,” Mr Weinert said.

“Each site has 160 solar panels with the capability to generate up to 100 MWh of energy per year, which is enough to power 18 average Australian homes.

“They were installed using an innovative system which streamlines engineering and procurement and provides cost efficiencies through deployment in-field.”

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