Chevron Commits to ‘Alt’ Energy
San Ramon-based Chevron said it expects
to spend the money over a three-year period from 2007 through 2009.
Over the five years from 2002 through 2006, Chevron spent about $2
billion on alternative and renewable energy technologies.
means Chevron expects to spend an average of $833 million a year from
2007 through 2009. That’s more than double the per-year average of $400
million Chevron plunked down from 2002 through 2006 on alternative and
"Ultimately, these projects have to make
business sense and bring in profits," said Alex Yelland, a Chevron
spokesman. "We are also looking for a leadership position in these
But some critics of the oil company were not impressed by Chevron’s spending program on alternative and renewable energy.
you take it as a percentage of profit, it does not amount to much,"
said Judy Dugan, a researcher with the Oil Watchdog online site.
the average of $833 million would amount to 4.5 percent of Chevron’s
annual — and record-setting — profit of $18.69 billion in 2007. And
the average of $400 million would have equated to 2.5 percent of the
company’s profit in 2006 of $17.14 billion — also a record at that
Dugan also is skeptical because she believes Chevron might not be
spending that much money on true renewable energy sources. She is
critical because the company does not specify how much is being spent,
separately, on alternative energy and renewable energy.
"Alternative energy could be liquid fuel
from coal, or gasification projects," Dugan said. "Alternatives are
often a code word for a different way to use fossil fuels. Chevron
needs to let us know what they are doing that is really green."
said it is investing in biofuel, geothermal, solar energy and hydrogen
fuel. Chevron works closely with AC Transit on programs related to
buses powered by hydrogen fuel, as well as diesel fuels derived from
soybeans and natural gas.
Kristina Johnson, a spokeswoman for the
Sierra Club, said it is about time for Chevron and other oil companies
to spend considerable sums on alternative and renewable energy.
energy is the future and fossil fuels are an outdated energy source,"
Johnson said. "The sooner we end our addiction to oil the better. This
has been a long time coming."
Executives at Chevron also pointed
out that the company scouts for alternative and renewable energy
technologies in ways other than direct spending. Chevron owns a venture
capital arm that invests in privately held startup companies.
than a few of these fledgling firms are engaged in research and
development of renewable or alternative energy. One example is
Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Inc., which has developed new
technologies to deploy solar energy fields.
operation looks for companies that have promising emerging
technologies," Yelland said. "They do play a key role in giving us a
position in this emerging alternative energy space. If you can get in
on the ground floor of these technologies, that can give you an edge."
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