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Big, bad oil companies and energy efficiency

A couple of days ago, US energy behemoth Chevron announced it will commit $20 million over five years to a partnership with the Qatar Science and Technology Park in Doha. Lip service and green washing, you might shout.

“Chevron believes that energy efficiency and conservation are the most immediate and cost-effective sources of new energy, and we are proud to work in partnership with Qatar,” Chevron Vice Chairman Peter Robertson said.

Guess what… they really “drink the kool aid.” With oil at $45/bbl, traditional perspectives change: “The crude oil price is around half the level required to attract adequate investment in the industry,” UAE’s oil minister Mohammed al-Hamli said last week. It doesn’t make financial sense to invest in oil exploration, so if you were an energy company in 2009 where would you invest?

Companies like Chevron, BP and Texaco have not succeeded for as long as they have on subsidies and luck alone. They are full of bright people, and they recognize the opportunities of renewable energy and energy efficiency. They know that investing in these technologies and researching alternatives makes financial sense. With their balance sheets and their extensive energy experience, they are best positioned to quickly incorporate new technologies into their established distribution systems and help us solve the world’s addiction to the very thing they built their business empire on.

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