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Green Appeasement: Oil, Gas Industry Wasting Billions on ‘Alternatives’

New renewable divisions are about PR, not innovation.

by
Anna Franco

Bio

July 7, 2013 - 12:00 am
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Some large oil and gas companies include the development of “alternative” energy (solar, wind, and biofuels) as part of their corporate goals.

Shell’s division — Shell WindEnergy — is involved with operating eleven wind farms, including eight joint ventures in the United States. Chevron’s Chevron Energy Solutions has an environmental focus on solar energy and other “renewable” forms of energy. Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign comprises about ten slogans stating what oil and gas companies should do differently, as if they are not doing enough already. It urges them to promote “renewable” energy, care for the planet, etc.

The Chevron campaign sums up the general attitude that just being an oil and gas company is no longer sufficient; instead, these companies are expected to carry the banner for every green movement goal as well. Finding alternatives to hydrocarbons themselves has become part of the hydrocarbon industry vision.

If these changes are an effort to broaden the scope of the industry by offering innovative products that energy consumers would actually benefit from, then oil and gas companies would make sure that their new divisions produce energy that is as valuable as what is already being produced. They would be sure to offer energy that is as efficient and cost effective as oil and gas are, or they would at least develop energy sources that use production expertise similar to that of oil and gas, so that it does not cost much more time or money to add them to the existing business.

The value of innovation itself is generally undisputed, but what counts as a valuable innovation?

Innovation is supposed to bring an advantage to the industry. Yet solar, for example, is far costlier than gas or coal for electricity generation. The Annual Energy Outlook 2013 Early Release Overview [Energy Information Administration AEO] specified the Estimated Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources, 2018 (total system levelized cost) of Solar PV to be $144.3/MwHr, and Solar thermal to be $261.5/MwHr, in the range of about 1.4 to nearly 4 times more than that of natural gas (conventional combined cycle: $67.1/MwHr, advanced combined cycle: $65.6/MwHr) or conventional coal ($100.1/MwHr).

The means of producing solar panels and wind turbines are significantly different processes from finding oil and gas. Furthermore, generating reliable electric power requires a source that is continually accessible and that stores well. Wind is an intermittent source that does not store its energy.

What special advantage do solar or wind or any other “green” energy sources offer oil and gas companies? Why do fossil fuel companies include these other forms of energy?

Their decisions are not based on engineering or economic principles; rather, they are based on an acceptance of environmentalist dogma, even though this threatens the industry itself by diverting its focus towards less effective and more costly forms of energy. This is a moral sacrifice to the green movement, a pressure group whose ideas are being pushed on the fossil fuel industry.

Instead of allowing this to happen, oil and gas companies need to have a single-minded focus on fossil fuels. 

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Top Rated Comments   
Actually, America became an economic superpower because Americans were free. The only natural resource that is required in abundance is respect for individual rights. With that, we can make anything we need.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Or, as Kate McMillan over at Small Dead Animals says:

"How come solar panel factories aren't powered by solar panels?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I spent much of my 40 year career designing and building power plants. Most of them were unconventional (cogeneration, waste to energy, alternate fuels, etc)

I am (was?) an expert. Much of the design work involved development of the financial pro forma matching the expected life of the facility. This was followed by a review of the VIABILITY of the fuel to power scheme.

Green energy was, is and always shall be pure bunkum. The laws of thermodynamics (ie energy) were written by God. No amount of wishful thinking will change them.

I could go on forever,,,but you get the point. YOU are paying for liberal crapola every day.

And they, generous to a fault, are not mentioning (for not telling you is the generous part) how rich they are getting.

ta
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (42)
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Most of what "Green" energy retailers actually sell is power from natural gas, bought on the spot market, (expensive, but still cheaper than "green"), and sold to you at the apparent cost of what the same "green" power would have been. This provides a conflict of interest since the margin on non-green power is better than the -green power.

Good job!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This article makes some excellent points. Energy companies are in business to make profits for their share holders by producing economic values. They are not duty bound to sacrifice to the "Green Movement" or any other group claiming to represent the "public welfare." Share holders should not be treated as sacrificial animals for the lates piece of politically correct psuedo science.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Just as self-immolating are state energy policies, patterned after Commiefornia, that require a certain percentage of energy sold by a generation company to be "alternative". If alternative meant nuclear base load plants I would buy into it, but the gubmint tax credits and generation subsidy is such that many invest in wind, a dead end technology.

When gubmint picks winners and losers, we ALL lose. Every. Damn. Time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
'Greenies' are left wing liberals. Left wing liberals are driven by emotion and that's it. Those emotions are anger, fear and guilt. Fact, truth and reality mean nothing to those people. Thus they created and are perpetuating the green energy lies.

There is no objective measure by which they can justify the whole 'green energy movement'. None. They are angry people who are afraid their lives are meaningless so they try to make the rest of us feel guilty by claiming we are responsible for the earth's (and mankind's) demise.

They perpetuate 'the movement' because of their insecurity about themselves. They have to do something to feel good about themselves and their 'we are saving the planet and mankind' self-aggrandizing agenda is their chosen vehicle for doing so. That and their ability as a very small minority to control the masses because they are vocal about their agenda whereas the masses sit back and say/do nothing.

We are getting to the point in this country where this 'style over substance' nonsense is going to end and we are going to get back to living in the real world and get away from this fantasy-type nonsense e.g. the green movement.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Haven't the energy companies admitted long ago that they are subsidizing the green movement basically as blackmail payoffs? (Maybe the IRS should force them to list the payments as bribes?)

Althoguh it does make sense for them to keep some investment in alternative energy, as a way of hedging their bets.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't disagree with this article, exactly, but it does it seem to be rather a long way behind the curve. The likes of Shell have been subsidising WWF for literally decades. About once every three seconds, an eco-loon accuses a rational human being of "being in the pay of Big Oil". Clowns like Peter Gleick, Stefan Lewandowski and Jonathan Cook (google them, if you don't know) consistently accuse climate rationalists of being in the pay of "Big Oil", in the complete absence of any evidence.

The reality is that the alarmist camp has benefited from vast amounts of financial support, both courtesy of the taxpayer (no, they didn't ask me, either) and through huge donations from oil companies. Sceptics have never been subsidised to remotely the same extent, by "Big Oil", or by anyone else.

It's no exaggeration to state that WWF, in particular, would have withered away many years ago, without the petrodollars from Shell.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am an electrician by trade and held a Masters License in the State of Tennessee until I decided to let others do all the hard work. As I see it even as far back as the late 1970's and early eighties solar was the rage at least for hot water in my area, but after many companies went bust due to Carter's subsidies being gone so did the solar hot water business. Think about it that was over 30 years ago and so where is this technology now???

Now it is the liberal idea that if you spend enough wasted taxpayer dollars towards a goal even one that can not be reached by subsidizing an effort that on the surface sound laudable and magnificent but not quite possible using what technology there is available today or in the near future!

No it is a waste of money to please a bunch of green nuts who think they can use solar power to charge an I Pad or I Phone that life will be great, but there is a small problem solar is intermittent as well as wind.

Oil produces the most bang for the buck and a cost benefit analysis would make the case that at today's technology it should be the energy use of choice as well as a subsidized industry nothing else matters in $ 3 and $ 4 gasoline prices!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Solar hot water does work here in Israel, but we have a somewhat different climate, plus people don't expect hot water automatically. When there isn't enough from the sun, we turn on the "boiler". The washing machines are European, which means they first heat the water (and the cycle is 1.5 to 3 hours). Kitchens often have an electrical heater connected directly to the faucet.

So the US is probably the least likely place for this to work, because of both climate and culture. Probably be a good idea in Arizona.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In the USA most of the growth in electrical power for the next three years or until Obama leaves--will come from wind & solar.

The saudis have an ambitious plan to shift all their electrical power production to solar plants from oil plants to save fuel for export.

Solar and wind are definitely more expensive than coal. However, its generally thought that with innovation and volume-- solar and wind will be competitive with coal in 5-10 years
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, No, NO. First problem. Green do not do numbers. Numbers, in this case very basic fundamental physical laws, cannot be changed. Our energy needs are huge. All the funny stuff is trivial. (fun for the hobbiest)
Second Problem. Unintended consequences. Solar and wind energy are the same thing. (Wind be a function of weather, thus the sun). No one has talked about what happens when that energy is STOPPED before it reaches the ground or creates rain. What happens when a massive solar panel array cuts off sunlight from some dessert flora our fauna? Is is OK because it is a liberal dream? Or windmills change flow patterns. At 10% efficiency a wind mill must stop 100 hp of wind to create 10 hp of power at the windmill....results equal about 2 hp at the end of the power line. duh.
It is called Energy Density.
The same sun and wind are much more effective creating hydro power.

The arithmatic (yes, arithmatic, not mathematic) skills are simple add, subtract, multiply and divide.

And of course, when we start saving the planet, who looses power and what uses are eliminated first? Ipads? Farm Tractors?

Finally, electricity is the LEAST efficient. We burn a fuel (primary conversion) have some loses, then we convert it to electricity, more losses, then we transmit it, more losses, and finally use it at less than perfect efficiency.

If you want to do some good, work out how to use fuel directly at home, without all the conversions and transmissions. This will double efficiency (i.e. cut in half the use of fuel)

ARRRRGH. This stuff is 200 year old mechanical engineering.....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Of course, they are in the desert.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The greens aren't interested in cutting carbon. We have proven technology that keeps the keeps the lights on in Chicago with miniscule carbon emission - it's called nuclear power. It has the benefit of using resources we can get from Canada and the southwest US, and can be built near any body of water. It's also very resistant to fuel price increases and creates lots of good-paying jobs. But the greens in general don't want anything to do with it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Or, as Kate McMillan over at Small Dead Animals says:

"How come solar panel factories aren't powered by solar panels?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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