According to Bloomberg citing “people familiar with the matter” ExxonMobil sent out a request for proposals earlier this year with a June 8 deadline, inviting solar and wind power suppliers to pitch Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contracts ranging from 12, 15, or 20 years.
The information stems from “a document obtained by Bloomberg and people with knowledge who asked not to be named discussing confidential matters.”
Apparently, ExxonMobil is seeking at least 100MW worth of renewable energy and could consider proposals for in excess of 250MW.
While the details are sketchy, the potential is tremendous.
“I have never seen an oil and gas company doing a corporate PPA anywhere near that size,” said Kyle Harrison, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and quoted by Bloomberg.
“If you’re seeing the biggest oil and gas companies going out and making investments in clean energy, it shows that renewables are cost-competitive. This can be a way for them to show a commitment to sustainability without suffering economically.”
The largest US oil and gas company has unsurprisingly said little on the matter.
ExxonMobil has failed to follow its peers such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP into investing in or transitioning towards renewable energy. The company has stated that “The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action,” however, CEO Darren Woods has said that the company’s focus will remain focused on John D. Rockefeller’s “bet-on-what-you-know” ideology.
However, given the moves being made by their rivals, ExxonMobil is likely to be caught out in the rain if they don’t move soon – which could reflect the reports. In December BP invested $200 million into solar energy firm Lightsource, acquiring a 43% stake in the company – enough to rebrand the company as Lightsource BP.
Earlier this month Lightsource BP acquired 135 MW worth of solar development assets in the United States, while BP continues to focus on various e-mobility offerings.
Royal Dutch Shell, on the other hand, started 2018 off with a renewable energy investment spending spree which included signing a 69.8 MW Power Purchase Agreement with the Bradenstoke solar power plant in England and a 44% investment in US solar developer, owner, and operator Silicon Ranch Corporation.
Shell is also an investor in the 731.5 MW Borssele III/IV wind farms and, earlier this year in its 2017 Annual Report, the company identified “divestment and climate litigation as material risks to the company’s bottom line.”
In the long run, it can be argued that these moves by fossil fuel giants are akin to moving deck chairs around on the Titanic – given their lengthy attempts to minimise the impact of their business operations on the environment – but it can similarly be argued that it is better late than never, and encourage once-fossil fuel giants to continue transitioning to a low-carbon future.