(ECNS) -- After 10 months of design and construction, the first project using solar thermal energy to heat thin oil was officially put into operation on Sunday in northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to Xinjiang Oilfield.
The project is designed to collect solar energy and heat the oil-water mixture that needs to be transported, replacing natural gas for heating.
In general, the oil-water mixture extracted from oil wells needs to be gathered through pipelines and sent to a metering station, where it is then transported to a central station for oil-water separation.
In order to flow smoothly, the mixture needs to be heated to reduce viscosity. This is especially important during winter, as failure to heat the oil-water mixture may result in freezing and blockage of pipelines.
The project is estimated to save 62,000 cubic meters of natural gas per year, equivalent to over 200,000 yuan ($28,000), and reduce carbon dioxide by 70 metric tons annually, equivalent to 3,825 trees.
The project is located in the eastern Junggar Basin in Xinjiang, where the number of sunshine days exceeds 300, with at least 6 hours per day, providing favorable conditions for photo-thermal utilization.
The project design was finished in October 2022 and construction started at the end of April 2023.