Top Ten Big Oil Company Green Initiatives in Cleantech

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One of the main reasons for the move to clean technologies, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency is due to the finite amount of fossil fuels available around the world. Many government agencies, businesses, and residents are making the switch to renewable energy. Some of the biggest names in oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and BP are realizing this switch and have started implementing their own green initiatives in an effort to continue business and decrease their overall effect when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions. Here is just a few of the many initiatives some of the largest names in oil companies are doing to make the world a much greener place.

1) BP Creating Sustainable Biofuels for Transportation. BP has been working on producing biofuels to reduce dependence on oil and provide a number of new jobs for farmers and other individuals. The biofuels being produced by BP are looking to be low cost, reduced carbon emissions, sustainable, and have the ability to offer the global community a new type of fuel to fulfill transportation needs. The BP Biofuels Global Technology Center in California houses all the research and development to commercialize a brand new technology that would turn viable materials into biofuels.

2) Shell and Wind Energy. Currently, Shell Oil company is involved with 11 separate wind projects throughout the North American and European continents. The total sum of generating capacity of this wind projects equals approximately 1,100 megawatts. Roughly 900 megawatts of this total capacity is generated from around 722 wind turbines included in eight wind projects throughout the United States. The largest one is the Mount Storm wind project, located in West Virginia. Established in 2008, this project created 264 megawatts of wind-generated energy. Other large-scale joint-venture wind projects are located in Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.

3) Joint Collaboration between Shell Gas and Power and Toyota. In 2004, Toyota partnered with Shell Gas and Power to launch a new trial of what is known as Shell Gas to Liquids (GTL) fuel in a new fleet of Toyota Avensis cars, which would also be equipped with D-CAT emission reduction technology. This trial, known as “Driving Tomorrow’s Clean Technology,” is part of a wider research program between the two companies that looks to demonstrate the effectiveness of low emissions GTL fuels in current diesel car engines without the need for investment or conversion. Started in the United Kingdom, David Jamieson, the Transport Minister said, “I am very pleased to see leading players in the oil and motor industries working together like this to find creative ways of reducing the impact of road transport on the environment.”

4) Chevron Energy Solutions. Created by the oil company, Chevron Energy Solutions is a national leader in clean energy innovation and development. Chevron Energy Solutions has created a number of sustainable energy initiatives to increase energy efficiency as well as renewable energy, decrease energy costs, and guarantee high quality and reliable energy for all facilities – including government, business, and education. The goals of all the initiatives are the same, decrease negative environmental impacts, save taxpayers money, improve public buildings, support sustainability goals, improve overall energy security, and increase local economic growth.

5) ConocoPhillips Increases Spending on New Energy Technologies. Houston, Texas based oil company ConocoPhillips has increased their technology budget toward clean energy technology innovations. ConocoPhillips, the first major oil company to become a member of the Unite States Climate Action Project, is starting to reposition itself to be more than “just an oil company.” In 2008, the oil company increased the budget to $500 million toward various areas of technology, including new exploration technology to detect undersea gas and oil deposits without increasing environmental impact, various breakthroughs in the creation of lithium-ion battery technologies, “coal-to-gas” technologies, and carbon storage and capture technologies. According to the senior vice president for technology, Stephen Brand, “With our emphasis on research and development, alternatives like solar, geothermal, clean coal and battery technology are where we put our efforts, in addition to moving forward on renewable like biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol.”

6) ExxonMobil Corporation Explores Use of Algae Biofuels for Alternative Energy. Senior Vice President of ExxonMobil, Andrew Swiger, has said that even though oil, natural gas, and coal are going to represent approximately 80 percent of the global supply of energy through the year 2030, renewable energies are going to play a big role in the increasing demand for energy. Because of this, ExxonMobil is looking for ways to provide for the future energy needs. According to Swiger, “We are testing the hypothesis that algae biofuels could become commercially viable and achieve sufficient scale to make meaningful contribution to the future energy mix.” Algae currently have the potential to create large quantities of oil to be processed in current refineries and will make fuels compatible with all existing transportation infrastructure and technology.

7) Chevron and Solar Power. Chevron is credited with being one of the largest solar photovoltaic developers throughout the state of California. This oil companies is also the top installer of solar projects in various educations institutions. Currently, the oil company has installed over 128,000 solar panels, including rooftop systems. For example, Chevron conducted the largest program for solar power as well as energy efficiency in the San Jose k-12 Unified School District. The Contra Costa Community College District located in Northern California has the largest solar power system out of any higher education institution in the United States. One last example is the Oakland, California United States Postal Service office which has the largest rooftop-based solar energy system for a federal facility.

8 ) ConocoPhillips Joins GE and NRG in 2011 for $300 Million Alternative Energy Alliance. At the start of 2011, oil company ConocoPhillips partnered with NRG and HE to invest $300 million in various emerging technologies for alternative energy. The money was committed to the joint venture known as Energy Technology Ventures and will fund an estimated 30 venture and growth-stage businesses spanned over the next four years. Some of the first investments will include solar photovoltaic and non-food biofuels. Energy Technology Ventures is poised to invest in the companies as well as provide commercial collaboration opportunities for companies in the smart grid, renewable power generation, energy efficiency, emissions control, biofuels, and water sectors throughout North America, Europe, as well as Israel.

9) Chevron Uses a Solar Plant for Steam Generation. Chevron currently employed BrightSource, a solar startup company to build them a solar thermal plant. This solar plant, located in California, is not for electricity, but rather for steam generation to be utilized in getting oil out from beneath the ground. This is to replace natural gas to make it easier and more efficient to extract the oil. Chevron Technology Ventures business developer Sergio Hoyos states that though solar thermal power cannot replace natural gas for steam production, it is a beneficial opportunity for the oil company to save on energy, reduce carbon emissions, and champion a renewable source of energy.

10) BP Green Commuting Initiative. BP China, in 2006, created the Green Commuting Initiative in an effort to reduce the number of cars of the street, increase public transportation, and reduce the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions going into the atmosphere. To increase BP employee involvement, public transportation passes were provided to individuals signing a letter of commitment to utilize public transportation a minimum of two times per month.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

  • Tr

    How about Total buyIng into Sunpower???