The principle of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is to increase the total amount of crude oil that can be extracted from an oil field. During conventional exploitation only about 20 % to 40 % of the actual resource can be obtained in primary and secondary recovery.
During primary recovery, natural excess pressure allows for an exploitation of 10 % to 15 % of the oil field. When the excess pressure alone isn’t sufficient for further exploitation anymore, water or natural gas can be pumped into the deposit, yielding a total recovery of 30 % to 40 % after secondary exploitation.
By employing solar powered EOR or tertiary recovery, the total recovery can be enhanced in some cases up to a total of 60 %. High temperature solar generated process steam is pumped into the oil field in order to recover otherwise unobtainable deposits. The high temperature of the steam lowers the viscosity of heavy oil or liquefies encrusted reserves for later extraction.
Fresnel solar powered EOR offers an ecologically sound alternative to other improved oil recovery processes that rely on chemicals, and it can increase the overall efficiency of the exploitation. It is well worth mentioning that oil is not only essential to conventional power generation but, more importantly, also an indispensable raw material for whole industrial sectors.