Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Canadian patent for renewable energy storage in heavy oil formations issued

Chicago-based PyroPhase Inc. was recently issued a Canadian patent for a method to store variable wind and solar PV power as heat in heavy oil formations, including oil sands and oil shale. This method can use variable and off-peak power because it stores radio-frequency energy as heat in heavy oil formations. It converts this resource to fuel for refineries in amounts 5 times the electric energy input.

Because this method uses power whenever it is available, and is instantly interruptible, it stabilizes the electric grid. It compensates for fluctuations in wind and solar power input and also in users demand. This reduces the need for spinning reserves, i.e. power plants that run all the time to meet sudden load changes, and thus waste fuel.

PyroPhase has noted on their website that they have plans to scale up and commercialize this technology and note that a 10,000 barrel/day plant could be built in 4 years at a cost in the order of $100 million USD, including $5 million USD for pilot development and $20 million USD to scale up to commercial module size.

Given that Saskatchewan has some of the most consistently high wind speeds in North America, the best solar PV potential in Canada, is already a global leader in carbon capture technology and has well-developed heavy oil extraction and refining industry, it would seem the obvious choice to pilot such technology.

1 comment:

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