Optimal Group Australia has recently commissioned a ground-breaking energy project for a major oil and gas customer. The project required Optimal to deliver a stand-alone power system to power one of the customer’s remote oil production facilities. 

Traditionally in the oil and gas industry these power generation systems have been provided with reciprocating type generators, which have often had high maintenance intervals and low efficiencies. 

In this case the customer wanted to not only replace their aging and inefficient system but to also achieve a significant reduction in emissions as part of the upgrade. Inclusive in this requirement was the need to incorporate solar PV into the new system. 

An added complexity of the system was the need to operate under the significant rapid load fluctuation. These fluctuations were as high as 250kW every eight seconds. The system consists of a C1000 one megawatt Capstone Microturbine running on fuel gas from the customer’s facility, it also includes a 250kW solar array and Optimal’s proprietary Grid Stability Module (GSM) to stabilize the electrical load. 

Commissioned in early-October the system has cut the customer’s fuel gas use, needed for power generation, by 50 per cent and as such will reduce their annual fuel cost for the facility by $1 million a year, delivering a very attractive payback for the project. 

As the system halves the customer’s fuel gas use it also it will halve the carbon emissions for the site, while dramatically reduces the system maintenance required. 

With five individual 200kW Capstone Microturbines incorporated in the C1000 the system has significant built in redundancy. With one moving part per turbine and Capstone patented air bearings the service requirements for the system have been slashed compared to their previous solution. 

Capstones technology also results in a doubling of the service life for Optimal’s system compared to business as usual. 

In developing this solution, Optimal have incorporated a Grid Stability Module into the system architecture. The GSM is a sophisticated rapid load response module incorporating Maxwell Ultra-Capacitors and conventional lead acid storage. 

The capacitors rapidly charge and discharge “absorbing” the significant load fluctuation without losing the available energy. Conventional stand-alone gas fired generators cannot manage such large load fluctuations. 

The Capstone microturbines are well suited to such loads but in this case the frequency and the magnitude of the fluctuation required further mitigation. Incorporating the GSM smooths the fluctuations to a level more suited to the long-term operation of the microturbines. Conventional generators would have required the use of large dynamic load banks to “burn” the surplus power needed to absorb these load fluctuations. 

That means Optimal was able to offer not only a smaller and more efficient generation system they were also able to incorporate solar PV into the system to further reduce the customers cost of electricity. 

This Partner Solutions was brought to you by Optimal Group. For more information, visit

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