Jun 5, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Charting Big Oil's renewable investments

Adapted from Rystad Energy; Chart: Axios Visuals

European oil companies, led by Equinor and Royal Dutch Shell, are investing the most in solar and wind projects, according to new data from consultancy Rystad Energy.

Why it matters: Scrutinizing the actual size of renewable investments by big oil companies reveals the degree to which they’re serious about evolving into broader energy players as the world seeks to tackle climate change and shift to cleaner energy types.

Driving the news:

  • Equinor, which is making huge investments in offshore wind, makes up the lion’s share of the investments over the next five years ($10 billion out of $18 billion).
  • Shell ramps up its investments in the latter half of this decade.
  • BP, which has been an early mover in this space, has far fewer specific investments in the pipeline compared to its counterparts.
  • American companies’ absence in the chart reflects the fact that they invest next to nothing in wind and solar.

How it works: Rystad’s analysis considers solar and wind investments announced before June 1, and those that can be “pinpointed to specific projects,” according to a statement accompanying the research. The firm didn’t include funds dedicated to renewable-energy targets, for example, due to the uncertainty of them playing out.

What they’re saying: “Recent suggestions of ‘resilient green strategies’ or ‘business as usual’ simply do not carry much weight, with the exception of Equinor,” says Rystad Energy’s Product Manager for Renewables Gero Farruggio. “Not until later in the decade do we see an increase in renewable spending from other companies.”

The bottom line: The world’s biggest oil and gas companies are expected to invest more than $18 billion in solar and wind over the next five years, but that number pales in comparison to the $166 billion they are planning to spend on new oil and gas projects, Rystad explains.

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