BP Officially Shuts Down Solar Efforts
If "BP" is short for Beyond Petroleum, it will have to change its name to just "P" now after it officially shut down its solar business last month, a key division in its quest to develop cleaner sources of energy. After 40 years, the final decision to shut the door on solar mostly comes from the impossible competition faced from China.
With the growth of Chinese manufacturing, a global surplus of panels and the subsequent collapse in prices, many solar companies have similarly been forced out of business over the last year.
"The continuing global economic challenges have significantly impacted the solar industry, making it difficult to sustain long term returns for the company, despite our best efforts," BP said in an internal letter to staff.
“Over the last six months we have realized that we simply can't make any money from solar,” a spokesman added.
Around 100 staff will be affected internationally and BP's remaining solar interests will be sold, but at least the proceeds will go towards BP's efforts to help recover some of the costs from last year's devastating explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Furthermore, BP says its move away from solar won't necessarily mean a move away from its broader interests in renewable energy. In 2005, the company said it planned on investing $8 billion in alternative energy by 2015. Thus far, $7 billion has been invested in its U.S. wind power portfolio and biofuels business.
So can you blame BP?
Just as important is BP's failure to capitalize on innovative technologies that would have allowed the company to profit in the solar market. Nathan Stoddard, one BP's own researchers, invented a new way to make silicon wafers for solar cells that significantly cut the cost of high efficiency silicon solar panels. The technology was originally developed in 2006, but never fully commercialized.
Instead, the company spent the next three years in a testing phase, showing it off at trade shows, and shut down its manufacturing operations in 2010. The rights were then sold to the Dutch company AMG.
Publicizing the new technology and failing to mass produce the panels allowed others to swoop in and replicate similar concepts elsewhere. Although AMG has resumed development of the technology, the solar market is stalled and its efforts appear to be too little, too late.
Amazon's renewable energy projects surpass 200 milestone
Amazon claims it is now Europe's largest corporate buyer of renewable energy as its projects surpassed 200 globally.
Broken down, it has 136 solar rooftops on facilities and stores and 71 utility-scale wind and solar projects, nine of which were announced today covering the US, Canada, Spain, Sweden and UK. They include:
First solar project paired with energy storage Based in California’s Imperial Valley, Amazon’s first solar project paired with energy storage allows the company to align solar generation with the greatest demand. The project generates 100MW of solar energy, and includes 70MW storage.
It now has more than 2.5 GW of renewable energy capacity, enough to power more than two million European homes a year, and aims to power all its activities with renewables by 2025 and net zero by 2040.
Amazon and Global Optimism co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019, a commit ment to reach the Paris Agreement 10 years early and be net-zero carbon by 2040. The pledge now has 53 signatories, including IBM, Unilever, Verizon, Siemens, Microsoft, and Best Buy.
A map of all of Amazon’s renewable energy projects around the world can be found here.