So much for oil companies going green – their backflipping on renewable energy continues to the point some of its high-profile henchmen are actively talking down the green energy industry.
As I’ve posted previously, Shell recently bailed on new renewable energy development; but BP has been pulling away from it for some time too – for example closing a solar panel manufacturing plant in Australia.
BP CEO Tony Hayward said on Wednesday that solar power was the most challenged of all of BP’s alternative energy investments. He also reportedly said solar power isn’t going to be competitive with more conventional power, that the gap is too big and there will need be a technology “disintermediation” step.
Disintermediation simply means cutting out the middleman.
Of course, his comments were given broad coverage. It’s one thing for oil companies to pull out of renewable energy, but to “diss” solar power in such a way is not just unforgivable, its untrue.
They need to come clean as to what I think is the real reason why they are pulling away – damned shareholders and executives wanting more bucks, more power, more quickly. Too many people want to rake a profit rather than just make one sustainably.
Comments such as he made will do nothing to encourage investment the industry, nor help close the costing gap – if anything, it’s counter-productive – and perhaps that is the goal?
Here’s the thing though; a recent study in the UK found that grid connect solar could be cost competitive with conventional means of power generation as soon as 2013. Think also electric cars – they don’t need oil.
Shell made similar negative comments about its “poor performing” renewable energy investments a while back, yet Shell is sinking a *ton* of cash into tar sands projects in Canada.. and losing a truckload of money on it at the moment. They are taking the “long term view” on that – so why not solar power?
My thoughts – oil companies know peak oil is either here or very near (even Shell’s CEO acknowledged peak oil on our doorstep); so they are prepared to lose money over the very short term while building out projects such as incredibly destructive tar sands oil extraction.
When peak oil really hits, prices for oil will skyrocket. There will be a ton of money to be made over a relatively short time. Between now and then, they’ll attempt to fool the public and gloss over as to just how bad tar sands extraction is – it’s basically the filthiest of fossil fuels.
Oil companies also stand to benefit from climate change – with the Arctic melting, they’ll soon be able to get at the rich reserves there.
Oil companies seem hell-bent on squeezing the last drop possible out of the ground, creating environmental havoc in the process before perhaps focusing on renewables again. A golden opportunity has been missed for them to start shifting focus before disaster occurs.
In my opinion, this approach isn’t good business, it’s plain evil and oil company shareholders should be seriously examining their consciences as retrieving the oil that’s left may tip the planet to a point of no return. Without a healthy environment, there cannot be healthy economy.
So what else could also be on the cards before oil companies do return to solar – just how far will it go – a war with Russia over claim to the Arctic’s oil reserves? The Russians seem to think it’s possible – and within a decade.
Haven’t we yet learned about the cost of going to war over oil? Environment aside, according to Iraq Body Count, up to 100,000 civilians have died since the 2003 invasion.
Do BP and Shell have a presence in Iraq? Looks like they will by the end of the year. Like, Shell, does BP has a presence in the tar sands of Alberta, Canada? You betcha.
All this environmental destruction, all this misery and slaughter could be avoided if only we’d look to the skies for the answers to our energy needs; renewable energy such as solar and wind power.