A very interesting bit of news appeared toady in the Wall Street Journal. In an article by Russell Gold, called “Just in Case – as big oil companies begin to invest in new technologies, some skeptics wonder what they are up to.” Mmmmm, I think to myself as I stroke my non-existant beard – does this in anyway remind of something?
Check out the video above which is a trailer for the 1996 Documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”. Seeing that it was, indeed, made in 1996 it does particularly strike one on viewing how similar the situation then is to the one today – almost exact as a matter of fact.
Gold describes the move towards creating venture capital funds by large oil companies as “a quiet trend”. Does he mean by that that the oil companies don’t want the general public to know too much about it? One can’t help but wonder.
Whereas Exxon apparently can’t see the point in doing this (oh yeah?), one of the major players seems to Chevron, according to Mr. gold’s article:
“Lately, Chevron has increased the share of its venture funds going into renewable energy to 33% from 18%. It has provided seed capital for BrightSource Energy Inc., an Oakland, Calif., company that turns solar energy into steam, and Southwest Wind Power, a Flagstaff, Ariz.-based company that builds small-scale wind turbines that can be placed on top of light poles.
One argument made, based on the relatively modest investments in renewable and alternative energy technologies compared to the oil companies overall size, is that such investing is an attempt at what is called “green-washing” – ”an effort to green up the image of a company that produces a lot of fossil fuels.”
Certainly General Motors, one of the ‘prime suspects’ in ‘Who Killed the Electric Car’, does seem to be moving towards alternatives to the gasoline-powered car, at least if all their advertising for hybrid SUV’s is anything to go by. Ultimately, one has to ask oneself “are they capable of investing in new technologies just to kill them off”. Yes, I think they are – given the kind of invested political climate we have had over the last eight years or so. Somehow though, I think the genie has been let out of the bottle now, and I don’t think the oil companies are going to ever be able to get it back in. Let us hope that such actions are nothing worse than “green-washing”. In the end it is down to vigilance by the individual and by the media. They can only get away with anything untoward if we let them.
You can see Russell gold’s article in full at the following link: