Do Major Oil Companies Invest in Renewables?
Jun 26 2018 Read 745 Times
From buying up solar panel firms to investing in algae-powered biofuel technology, the green energy revolution is quickly gaining momentum. So what does this mean for the world's biggest oil and gas companies? Like many investors, the likes of ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron aren't holding back on investing in renewable energy opportunities. In fact, they're channelling billions into eco-friendly, sustainable ventures.
Fossil fuel firms set to clean up their acts
Today, sectors like transportation, electricity and manufacturing account for 78% of America's total carbon emissions. Meanwhile, high-profile oil spills, climate change concerns and controversial exploration projects have left major oil and gas companies with a seriously dirty reputation. Now, that's all set to change as oil and gas majors begin to make a mark in the rapidly expanding renewables industry.
While the process of displacing fossil fuels will be complex and expensive, experts assert that oil and gas majors will play an important role in pioneering the clean energy reform. Giants like ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron have staggering capital generation capabilities, raking in US$44.6 billion in combined free cash flow in the last year. The enormous profits represent big opportunities for investing in renewable energy technologies which means that far from being climate change villains, the world's oil supermajors could step up as key allies in the renewable energy revolution. Eventually, this could see them transition away from oil and gas and start to dominate clean energy supply chains.
A new era of energy
So what's in the works? Currently, ExxonMobil allocates a cool US$1 billion per year to fund basic research in low-carbon technologies. The American-owned multinational oil and gas corporation has also signed a US$500 million joint venture with Synthetic Genomics, underpinned by a goal to genetically engineer photosynthetic algae and create renewable crude using little more than natural sunlight and carbon dioxide.
Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell has snagged a 44% stake in Nashville-based solar developer Silicon Ranch, while Chevron is investing in a host of different renewables markets, including solar, wine and geothermal. While many of these global companies are still finding their feet and picking their paths, it's clear that the world's oil and gas major don't plan on missing out capitalising on the renewable energy revolution.
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