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How Abu Dhabi Differs From Exxon

Abu Dhabi, the largest of seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, is swimming in oil revenue - and it's investing some of that money in solar power. That's more than can be said for Exxon Mobil Corp., which rebuffed a Rockefeller initiative at yesterday's annual meeting to nudge the company toward renewable energy. A shareholder resolution sponsored by the company's founding family was easily defeated.

Exxon's stance is an assertion that today's primacy of oil will continue for years to come, and that what the oil giant does best is look for oil and gas, not manufacture solar panels. But Abu Dhabi is doing the sort of forward planning that the Rockefellers wish Exxon would consider for tomorrow. Today Masdar, part of the industrial development arm of the Abu Dhabi government, unveiled plans to invest $2 billion in thin-film photovoltaic solar technology. True, this amounts to about a month of Exxon Mobil's projected capital spending this year. But in the solar world, it's substantial and noteworthy and probably just the sort of thing the Rockefellers would like Exxon to do.

Steven Geiger, director special projects at Masdar, talked with me by phone today. He said that Masdar aims to produce 1 gigawatt of panels by 2013 by adding plants, most likely in the southwest United States and Asia.

The first phase of investment will help bring solar power to Abu Dhabi and other Mideast oil producing countries, many of which still use oil to generate electricity, a practice that is wasteful and costly. In addition, Geiger said, there is a “staggering the growth of power demand” in the UAE.

But the solar plants Masdar envisions will have the capacity to produce way more than those Mideast markets will buy. Masdar is looking to become a player in the global solar market. Until now, Geiger said, Abu Dhabi had made three modest investments in solar thin film companies. By contrast, he said, “this is 100 percent built and owned by Abu Dhabi.”

Though the investment is big, it will still leave Masdar well behind the industry leader in thin films, U.S.-based First Solar, which is also the low-cost producer right now. The way thin film works, Geiger explains, is that you spread two layers of amorphous silicon on large glass substrates, or panels. It isn’t as efficient as some solar panel technologies, but it’s cheaper and good to use in places with plenty of space, like the desert. It’s also good to use in hot places where the temperature on the surface of the panels can reach 75 or 80 degrees centrigrade. And the more of it a company can make, the more it drives down costs.

Masdar quotes Deutsche Bank as saying that the current global PV market is worth US$15 billion and growing at 40 percent a year clip.

“It’s a scale game,” Geiger said today. “I think you’ve seen the entry of large tool suppliers into this business, the same people drove down costs in semiconductors and flat panels.” At this point, he said, solar has “moved out of the garage, away from people trying to build better mousetraps to people with tool sets who are cranking out bigger volumes.”

So Abu Dhabi isn’t waiting, he said. While the oil is still flowing and with cash coffers brimming, it is diversifying into renewable technologies. It’s the sort of thing the current generation of Rockefellers would appreciate.

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Comments (55)

A.N.:

You know, Exxon does have a very good reason to take a page from Abu Dhabi and invest in solar power.

Gas companies like to rake in the profits yeah? Develop solar energy and invest in non-petroleum based fuels, when everyone in the US stops using oil for everything the price of refined oil will skyrocket and they can sell it off to all the other countries in the world that still use gas and make trillions.

It'll be win-win for the People of the U.S. and Exxon at least.

Peter Cortelyou:

Rex Tillerson's compensation is based on quarterly earnings, as will be his successors. We as Americans feel capitalism should be rewarding, after all. However, with Exxon Mobil's profits tied to the downside of the Peak Oil curve, he would be impoverishing himself (relatively speaking) to look ahead to a future where petroleum will be the (very expensive) alternative energy (and chemical feedstock).
In a world, like ours, where indivuduals like Tillerson and his enablers make decisions that disadvantage all of us in the future (to say nothing of his own grandchildren's future), their decisions make coming to grips with climate change, to say nothing of middle eastern and Putinesque geopolitics), that much more difficult.

Ken in Thailand:

Meanwhile, the Thai government wants to build it's first 4 nuclear power plants. Thailand is a country which just built a giant airport with cracked runways, and there's an armory explosion every 10 months on average. Solar has been suggested, but EGAT (their federal electricity power plant people) scoff at the idea. details: sabaibooks dot com / nuke1 dot pdf write a letter to the Bangkok Post or the Nation newspapers - if you want to get a message to the Thai people. They print letters to the Editor from nearly anyone who submits.

Maryo:

Abu Dhabi continues to keep as its highest priority the development of an economy that will bring investment, jobs and wealth to its citizens. While Abu Dhabi is one of the seven emirates, it and Dubai subsidize most of the rest of the country. Both emirates have been led for years by men who look to protecting their country's future. While this has its down sides (protectionism and in some cases serious conflicts of interest), they are intent on nation-building rather than profit-grabbing. If only some more US companies could develop a sense of social responsiblity, perhaps we could continue to build this great nation of ours.

Dimitry:

Another perfect example of what is wrong with economics:

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And since there isn’t a wage-price spiral, we don’t need higher interest rates to get inflation under control. When the surge in commodity prices levels off — and it will; the laws of supply and demand haven’t been repealed — inflation will subside on its own.
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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/02/opinion/02krugman.html?hp
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Economists are trained to think of resources (and hence physical reality) as a function of the "markets", and not as they really are - a physical, binding reality, subject to laws of physics and thermodynamics that far supercede any virtual human virtual construct such as the "market".

In the natural sciences such an approach has been out of fashion for at least a couple of centuries - expecting the "experiment" to define reality and not the other way around - it basically went away with alchemy. Alas, this intellectual backwardness still rules the pseudo-science of economics.

Dimitry:

Carter's 1977 speech in full:

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http://www.mnforsustain.org/energy_speech_president_carter.htm
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He was off by about 15 years on the timing of peak oil, but other than that, it all reads pretty straight forward today. Of course, if these policies would have been adopted then, we would have an alternative energy infrastructure humming along now, but the record profits of the oil companies and oil producing national elites would not have happened.

Guess who is laughing all the way to the bank?

Dimitry:

Fascinating "critique" of old Carter's energy policy.

For starters:

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The recent debate over a national energy policy has led some to criticize the policies of the Carter administration in the late 1970s. President Jimmy Carter, who held the White House from 1977 to 1981, recently responded with his own take on the facts.

While we experienced energy crises in 1973 (sparked by the OPEC boycott) and 1979 (the result of the Iran-Iraq war), world supplies since have been stable, price fluctuations cyclical and reserves plentiful. This is partly due, Carter contends, to long-term energy policies his administration formulated in the 1970s. Those policies included increased exploration, decontrolling the price of natural gas and oil, development of alternative energy sources and regulations requiring increased efficiency.

In 1977, U.S. vehicles averaged 12 miles per gallon -- but now reach twice that much gas mileage, despite having fallen slightly during the past five years.

Since Carter signed his final energy bills in 1980, America's gross national product has increased 90 percent, while energy consumption has gone up only 26 percent.

The emphasis on coal and other sources of energy has limited petroleum consumption to an increase of only 12 percent, while gasoline prices have actually declined by 41 percent in real terms -- even including the temporary surge in the past two years.

At the end of 1980, every available drilling rig in the United States was at full capacity, and U.S. dependence on foreign imports was falling.
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http://www.ncpa.org/pi/energy/pd052101b.html
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From Carter's 1977 speech on energy policy - sounds pretty prescient, isn't it?

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"The world has not prepared for the future," said Jimmy Carter. "During the 1950s, people used twice as much oil as during the 1940s. During the 1960s, we used twice as much as during the 1950s. And in each of those decades, more oil was consumed than in all of mankind's previous history." Hubbert said we must begin to conserve. Carter agreed.

"Ours is the most wasteful nation on earth," he said, a point that is still true. "We waste more energy than we import. With about the same standard of living, we use twice as much energy per person as do other countries like Germany, Japan and Sweden." Carter directly challenged the fossil fuel and automobile industries. "One choice," he said, "is to continue doing what we have been doing before. We can drift along for a few more years. "Our consumption of oil would keep going up every year. Our cars would continue to be too large and inefficient. Three-quarters of them would continue to carry only one person -- the driver -- while our public transportation system continues to decline. We can delay insulating our houses, and they will continue to lose about 50 percent of their heat in waste. "We can continue using scarce oil and natural gas to generate electricity, and continue wasting two-thirds of their fuel value in the process."

But that would be unpatriotic, anti-American, and essentially wrong. Who but a traitor sold out to special interests, or an idiot, would countenance such insanity?

The year 1977 was a turning point for America. If we didn't make clear and rapid progress, we would face painful times ahead. The Saudis would have their fingers around our necks. We'd face war in the Middle East to secure future oil supplies. "Now we have a choice," Carter said. "But if we wait, we will live in fear of embargoes. We could endanger our freedom as a sovereign nation to act in foreign affairs."

Failure to act in the 1970s and 1980s would inevitably lead to a time when the only way to maintain our lifestyle would be to rape our planet and seize control of oil-rich nations in the Middle East. If we didn't begin to develop alternatives like solar power, and dramatically reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, then, Carter said, even our cherished personal freedoms would be at risk. If we continued to simply follow past policies that enriched the oil industry and the Saudis, instead of becoming energy independent, Carter said, "We will feel mounting pressure to plunder the environment."

If we failed to develop alternative sources of renewable energy and conserve what we have, the alternative could be nasty. As Carter pointed out: "We will have a crash program to build more nuclear plants, strip-mine and burn more coal, and drill more offshore wells than we will need if we begin to conserve now. Inflation will soar, production will go down, people will lose their jobs. Intense competition will build up among nations and among the different regions within our own country. "If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions."

"We can be sure that all the special interest groups in the country will attack the part of this plan that affects them directly," he said. "They will say that sacrifice is fine, as long as other people do it, but that their sacrifice is unreasonable, or unfair, or harmful to the country. If they succeed, then the burden on the ordinary citizen, who is not organized into an interest group, would be crushing." But that would be wrong. It would be un-American. It would lead to future oil shocks, and the probable death of American soldiers in Middle Eastern oil wars. Instead of caving in to the Saudis and the oil industry, Carter said: "There should be only one test for this program: whether it will help our country."
--------------------------------------------------


And of course, we would be remiss if we did not remember who really benefited from the status quo:


--------------------------------------------------
Carter's speech drew a strong reaction from the Saudis and the oil industry. Think tanks soon emerged - many whose names are today familiar - to suggest there was really no energy problem, and they led the charge to establish a permanent right-wing media in the US. Within two years, Saudi citizen and oil baron Salem bin Laden's sole US representative, James Bath, would funnel cash into the failing business of the son of the CIA's former director, political up-and-comer George H. W. Bush. With that money from the representative of Osama Bin Laden's half-brother, George Bush Jr. was able to keep afloat his Arbusto ("shrub" in Spanish) Oil Company. And he would be in the pocket of the bin Laden and Saudi interests for the rest of his life.
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http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0503-22.htm
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Carter's energy policies:

Paul - we should continue to curse Carter's bad energy policies

1) Ban on natural gas for home heating
2) Ban on reprocessing nuclear fuel leaving us with ten times the radioactive material we should have
3) and syn-fuels were a multi-billion folly that produced nothing

Further more nothing prevents the Rockefellers or anyone else from selling Exxon and buying BP which has a very active solar program. The fact that they don't speaks louder than their words. And there are many pure player solar investments folks. No one is stopping anyone from buying them. However personally I've done very well with Chevron Texaco -- I'll keep my dinosaur thank you

Nym:

Paul:

Reagan also cut funding for Alzheimers disease research, so he's had some measure of karma.

darker:

they're going SOLAR so they can save their oil to sell to USA IDIOTS who pay huge $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to USA BIG OIL that scams them with scare-talk publicity about oil supply.

Fate:

I have to agree with JH. If Exxon is going to be so short sighted, why should we want them to be involved in the future. Maybe they should go the way of their resource, like the dinosaurs, and become extinct. People with vision will lead us into the future. Exxon ain't them.

jh:

Perhaps it is best for the future that companies like Exxon are not involved in alternative energies. Check out "Marketing Myopia", pgs 5-6.

http://www.dallascap.com/pdfs/MarketingMyopia.pdf

Ken:

The US has been a world leader for a long time, can't it lead the world out of the oil addiction?

What's wrong with the country?

Paul:

I agree that we should invest in alternative fuel strategies. I think every Ronald Reagan-loving Republican should get down on his hand and knees to beg Jimmy Carter for forgiveness. (For those of you too young to remember, Reagan ridiculed Carter for investing in synthetic fuels 30 years ago.) But it is ludicrous to think that oil will not be a large part of our fuel portfolio for our lifetimes. If Exxon stopped drilling for oil, which would lead to even higher prices, we will all be jumping on Exxon for price-gouging.

RICHARD CAHALL:

Hey its happening right now at Kramer Junction Solar in the Mojave Desert. This parabolic mirror installation has been there since 1985 and generates
340Mw a day. It ain't rocket science folks!

CM Levin:

Someone has asked if we can power cars with solar cells: the answer is why not? There's already a couple of solar powered golf cart-sized vehicles already on the market, & it's not far from there to full-blown cars. I'm willing to bet that there's still enough Yankee ingenuity to develop an electric car which would be mostly powered by solar cells backed up by batteries that could be charged off the grid or fuel cells-the same fuel cells that NASA uses in the Space Shuttle.

CornbreadSatan:

Gary wrote:

"how in the cornbread hell are you going to power a car with solar panels. the idea is that you want to destroy capitalism"

How in "cornbread hell" is finding other methods to power automobiles considered destroying capitalism? Is switching from cathode ray tube televisions to LCD and plasma televisions also destroying capitalism?

Alan Browne:

Exxon is a large arrogant company that has indirectly and directly funded efforts to:

- deny and discredit global warming
- prevent more fuel efficient CAFE rules for automobile manufacturers
- reduce the number of refineries in the US

It has also dragged out its defense over damages due to the Exxon Valdez as long as possible despite the environmental and economic damage to Alaskans. The Supreme Court can hand them their comeuppance or...

It has been nearly 20 years since the Valdez disaster and I have boycotted Exxon ever since. I have gassed at Exxon exactly twice in that time as I was running too low to risk not getting at least a few gallons...

Of course, as the oil industry is beginning to advertise of late, if you have mutual funds, you (and I) very likely have Exxon in the mix...

Oil companies should be looking at solar, wind, tidal and other technologies for energy. They are in the energy and transportation businesses and oil is getting very difficult to find and deliver.

It is very bizarre that the lesson of the 70's has not become the bedrock of how we manage oil, after all:

-It is economically vital
-it pollutes in proportion to use
-it is non-renewable

Any pair of the three points above would be cause for strong measures to manage its use; the three together make it an imperative.

Developing alternate energy supplies is just as imperative, esp. those that are renewable.


peristyle:

We need more students in graduate schools, we need more people more interesting to open a mathematic or physics book rather than a bible. We need more thinkers than believers. We need more administrators than politicians. "Mazda" means light, the Sun in sanskrit......

Adrasteia:

The less Abu Dhabi burns the more they have to sell at record profits to oil addicts like the US.

I congratulate them for exploiting what they have an abundance of: sun. These countries are exhibiting the same kind of ingenuity the US used to.

Anonymous:

This blog was not intended to be about Exxon which can do what it wants.

This blog is about what we can do about changing over to solar energy and minimizing the use of fossil fuels, especially fossil fuels that come from countries that want to destroy our value systems, such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Algeria and Iran.

The growth in the efficiency of solar panel has not been linear, it has been exponential and that is why it is almost a certainty that solar panels along with wind power will give us one hundred percent of our energy within 20 years, theoretically in 7 years, if it doubles every 2 years.

In 20 years gasoline will still be the favorite energy source for my grandkids wishing to go 80 mph on 25 mph streets but for the rest of us solar and wind is not just the only alternative but the only patriotic alternative.

I would like to suggest the use of pumped storage reservoirs.

Pumped storage reservoirs currently a way of storing energy so that we can release it quickly when we need it when demand is high. Fossil -fuel power stations, which take half an hour or so to crank themselves up to full power. Nuclear power stations take much longer.

Water is pumped up to an upper reservoir at night, when demand for power across the country is low. When there's a sudden demand for power, the "headgates" (huge taps) are opened, and water rushes down tunnels/penstocks to drive the turbines, which drive powerful generators. The water then collects in the bottom reservoir, ready to be pumped back up later when power is cheaper as at night. There are quite a few in operation in the US currently.

When water is pumped up to the upper reservoir we are storing gravitational potential energy in it. The greater the height, the more energy is stored.

In order to make pumped storage power a continuous source of power windmills and solar panels, huge numbers of them, can be installed at lower heights closer to the lower resrvoir and instead of buying power to pump up the water free energy from the sun and wind is used. Intermediate level reservoirs will cut down on the need to have huge windmills.

Jeff:

Yes, Exxon is an oil company and not a solar company and they don't need to invest in alternatives. However, they also don't need to provide funding to groups that spread misinformation about climate change. The more confusion about the issue, the less the perceived need to reduce fossil fuel consumption. If they don't want to contribute, they need to stay out of the way while the rest of us work on solutions for the future.

MDBoyz:

Solar power is cost-effective today. You can buy solar panels and finance them with a 30-year mortgage - same as your house. You would generate enough electricity to power your house and have zero utility costs (assuming you're in a net metering state and your solar daytime electricity generation equaled your overall electric consumption), and the cost of the mortgage would be about the same as your current electric bill. In 5 years when your electric rates have doubled you'd be saving 50% of your utility costs as your mortgage would still be the same. In 30 years, when your mortgage was paid off, you'd have zero electricity costs.

Solar power is here today. It's a shame our government is still willing to give billions to the oil companies in tax incentives and nearly zip to alternative energy research and grants. It's morally repugnant that the chairman of Exxon makes 5 times as much in salary and other payments as Exxon spends on alternative energy research (47mil vs. 10 mil in research). But the handwriting is on the wall, and Exxon will be just like the railroads were when air travel became viable and they weren't looking.

deeps:

Everytime a Big Oil exec is forced to answer the question, "What are you doing with your record profits?", the answer is: "We're investing it back into the company to find alternative energy sources."

I'm surprised that Exxon's apparent decision to maintain the status quo isn't irritating people more. We continue to get gouged with $4/gallon fuel prices and the oil companies are getting away with lying about their efforts to find a better way to fuel this country.

F' big oil! They're getting away with extortion and no one has the balls to do anything about it!

Richard Morris:

IMHO, this report is good news. An oil rich nation / United Arab Emirate wants to invest in renewable solar panels. Very commendable, and forward thinking.

PGR88:

All of you need stop dreaming and become much more realistic. Solar needs to become MUCH more efficient to have any hope of replacing oil on a large scale. What did oil replace? Whale blubber. What did the auto replace? The horse. What did the telephone replace? Writing letters. These are obvious, sudden, arithmetic-scale improvements in efficiency and cost - therefore, they were accepted quickly and globally. Solar is nowhere close to such an increase in efficiency and cost savings. Solar efficiency is making progress, but those of you who believe it is only not more widespread because of "big oil" conspiracy or lack of Government action are simply dreaming.

Jeff:

Well, fat old rich white guys don't care about the future outside of the profit on short term, since these fat republican bedmates will be dead but rich inside 10 years time.


Jack Smith:

OK show us the way
We're all eyes and ears
We're holding our breath

captstan:

Florida, the Sunshine state, has a pro-nuclear, five-member, Public Service Commission -- opting for more nuclear power and foreclosing any and all options for solar energy.

The legacy utility, Florida Power and Light (FPL), has 310 megawatts of solar (located outside the state)-- FPL has a total baseload slightly in excess of 25,000 megawatts -- serving 4.5 million customers in south Florida. FPL has an experimental 10 megawatt solar project slated for future construction in Florida. FPL has stated that capital costs for solar-energy are too high.

The PSC recently approved a 10% increase in nuclear output at four reactors in S.E. Florida -- adding 414 megawatts of nuclear power at a cost of $1.4 bil. The upgrade may utilize multi-oxide fuel containing plutonium mixed with uranium -- although no public admission has been made about MOX.

Floridians have been denied gas-fired, decentralized co-generation as an alternative to more nuclear power; because, FPL's survival as a growth company is dependent on suppressing competition from decentralized cogeneration plants such as MIT's 20 megawatt plant in Cambridge, MA.

In his book, The Politics of Energy, environmental biologist, Dr. Barry Commoner, advocated small decentralized cogeneration plants anchoring solar power installations, using natural gas as the transition fuel towards a solar energy future.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, in her recent book, "Nuclear Power is not the Answer," endorses the decentralized cogeneration concept put forth by Dr. Commoner.

A very interesting point is that Florida Governor, Charlie Crist, appointed a former FPL nuclear project manager to the five-member PSC in January 2007. Additionally, the governor appointed state Senator Nancy Agrenzio to the PSC in March 2007 -- she is a pro-nuclear politician from Crystal River, FL, where Florida's fifth nuclear reactor is located.

PSC Commissioners Skop and Agrenzio rammed thru a state siting approval for two more nuclear plants at Turkey Point -- 24-miles south of Miami.

It should be noted that nuclear power is three times more profitable for FPL than conventional, gas or oil fired power lants.

Remarkably, Florida's politicians have adopted a reckless disregard for the risk of terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities; despite the 9/11 Commission finding that the original conceptualization of Al-Queda's plan was to hijack 10 aircraft and target a nuclear power plant.

Even more remarkable was the fact that an Al-Queda cell, headed by Mohammed Atta, was embeded in Delray Beach, Florida, and conceivably was targeting one of the nuclear plants in Southeast Florida.

By way of contrast to Florida's pro-nuclear policy, NY State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, announced on December 3rd, that the state would become an intervener and oppose a 20-yr license extension for Indian Point nuclear power plant -- situated 41 miles north of mid-town Manhattan -- because of the lack of a viable evacuation plan.

Additionally, California has a moritorium on new nuclear power plant construction. And, Germany is phasing out nuclear power converting to solar power by establishing a solar power industry for that purpose.

For the purposes of truthful advertising Florida should be renamed the nuclear state instead of calling itself the Sunshine state.

Anonymous:

If we can use solar electricity to make ethanol ( not necessarily corn based ethanol) then the current criticism that ethanol takes more energy to produce than it gives out will vanish.

Imagine in the Mojave desert: Parabolic mirrors to generate steam to generate electricity to power ethanol plants ( or methanol which is a better carrier agent that can be converted to ethanol nearer the point of use, say in Iowa.

Sounds idealistic?? That is what they said about the telephone and automobiles, will never replace horses.

Tom:

Robert of LA, don't try to confuse the mob with facts. They've already pulled out their pitchforks and lit their torches!

Scientist:

The future electric car will not only be a plug-in hybrid but will have nano-solar panels on the roof and small wind mills in the front whose turbines will continuously power the batteries as the car moves forcing the drag to move the blades. Now throw in solar panels on the roof of your house to charge the batteries and you will be driving cars getting 500 miles to the gallon.

Remember what Steve Ballmer's mom said " Who will ever use a PC?"

scientist1:

I'm reminded of Japan's announced move into green technology--I think it was a decade ago. Now we have waiting lists for the Prius while SUVs sit on the lot. The US is showing a lack of strategic vision because decisions are based on too short a time base and without concern for offloadable external costs. We need the equivalent of a manhattan project on energy, and we need full transparency about all costs, such as the comment about ethanol losing 29% and the subsidies to oil, gas, and nuclear power.

Fate:

gary wrote: "how in the cornbread hell are you going to power a car with solar panels. the idea is that you want to destroy capitalism."

Houses that place the latest solar cell technology on their roof covering at least 50% of the area typically break even on electricity use. You will always need power plants to maintain a consistent availability of conditioned electricity (e.g., nighttime), but solar on your roof would, on average, meet your energy needs. Now, add an electric hybrid car that plugs into your house, or a purely electric car like the Tesla, and you have cars powered indirectly by solar.

All the technologies to "go solar" exist: Electric/hybrid cars, solar cells, ability to sell the electricity to the grid, etc. Its the economics that are the issue. The cost of solar cells is still high, but getting close to the break even point. As more efficient cells are produced we would only need about 3 times more efficiency to get to the point where solar cells would pay for themselves in 5 years, something a homeowner would easily consider. Once we hit that tipping point, all new construction will include the cells. I expect all of this to happen around 2015 in the "sun states" like Arizona and California. By 2025 everywhere else. I can see some states mandating it in new construction. At the same time, electric cars and hybrids will become the norm, with purely gasoline cars disappearing as quickly as cars that required leaded gasoline. Wind power is already in place and a proven technology. And all of these technologies will be improved and made available *because* of capitalism, not by destroying it. More jobs will be created by the new energy technologies than will be lost by oil going away.

So the technologies are all there. We don't have to invent anything new, just improve current technologies and make them economical. So gary, in 20 years as you are driving your solar powered electric car that you plug into your house with solar cells on the roof, you will think back and wonder why you made such a silly statement.

Scientist:

With solar panels based on nano technology,there is exponential growth in the efficiency of solar panels. The First Solar panels are outdated. Obsolete technology. At the current rate solar panels will produce 100% of the country's energy (that is of the USA) in 10 to 15 years and there is no stopping that unless of course John McSame is elected president and he and the Bush gang will find ways to drail the solar blaze.

Bill Monroe:

Well, at least Someone is making smart energy choices. You could call that a start.

Anonymous:

You are hoping for too much! USA is a country where they think it is a good idea to use food (corn) and convert it into fuel for cars, instead of building more fuel efficient (smaller) cars!

Never mind that a study of th University of Nebraska, right in the middle of corn country, has concluded that conversion and use of corn for fuel is a negative 29% endeavour, that means the entire enterprise of conversion to use consumes 29% more energy than the output of the final product....and here they are building tens of plants this year, subsidies by about 50 billion dollars of taxpayer's money!

But the end of the good time period, it is and it will take some time for U.S. of A. to realise it.

Matt:

This is silly.

ExxonMobil is a corporation, not a nation.

If EM diverted its profits into solar, your gasoline prices would rise further, and you would scream bloody murder about that. These are oil people. It is what they know, and it is what they do more efficiently than just about anyone else in the world. Why should they try to be something different?

If you want to invest in wind energy or solar, there are hundreds of other companies headed that way right now. So don't ask an oil company to be your messiah toward alternative energy.

Anonymous:

IF THE U.S CONGRESS IS SERIOUS IN STAMPING OUT THE SPECULATORS IN THE OIL COMMODITY MARKET, THEY SHOULD PASS A LAW THAT WOULD PLACE A CEILING PRICE FOR OIL FOR A PERIOD OF TIME (3 months to 6 months). After the period expires, set another ceiling price that is lower than the previous. Im sure that in 1 year time, the price of oil will be back to its normal level which could be 40 to 50 dollars per barrel. No speculators would like that and for sure a selling spree would occur.

That is the best solution to scare off speculators.

William Brody:

America: Dumber than a Bag of Hammers and Fatter than a Pig on Steroids!

Keep it up, kids, we're going to learn our energy lesson the hard way!

gary:

how in the cornbread hell are you going to power a car with solar panels. the idea is that you want to destroy capitalism.

TheFuelMultipliersWillWinWillWinWillWin:

The oil price remains above 125 USD, People needing their car for work have a hard time and the Europeans and Northern Americans heating their homes with Gas and Oil could face the most expensive winter ever.

Nevertheless, the Energy revolution has begun. The Solar Millennium has eventually been unleashed, let’s transform this world and its markets:

Water for the deserts of Africa and America, Power for the People; Energy Revolution, Solar Millennium !

Solar Millennium is also the Name of a Company, awarded with the ENERGY GLOBE AWARD in the category Fire[1]. This company currently builds the first real utility scale solar-thermal power plants in Spain.

The German Magazine “Der Spiegel” wrote “How Europe gets rid of Coal and Gas”[2] and “That’s how Oil becomes redundant for the USA”[3] and refers to visions that can become reality in the next decade.

And it can be achieved by building parabolic mirrors in sunny regions to produce steam to run a turbine and power generation.

These solar thermal power plants are running so efficient today, that soon economies of scale will allow them to replace traditional energy production.

Remaining process heat can be used to for sea-water desalination. Hence the ideal spots for such power plants - sunny and not too far from the sea - are usually in need for drinking water.

Parabolic mirror power plants, as those built in Spain, accumulate energy in molten salt tanks and are able to produce power also during the night time. The turbines run 7,5 hours after sunset and cloudy periods are bridged.

With a co-firing of 10%-20% and with reasonable financing continuous power production and cost effectiveness may be achieved today, especially at utility scale.

They are hence “fuel multipliers”, whereas utility scale photo voltaic power and wind wind power are just “fuel savers” - “Sun gone, Wind away: No more Power”.

To realize solar powered two digit percent fractions of energy production in Europe or the USA or to power entire cities, one can only build utility scale solar thermal power plants in the earth’s sun belt.

The power transport is not a big problem any more as high voltage DC-Transmissions just loose 3% per 1000km.

[1] *tinyurl.com/6n74mq*
[2] *tinyurl.com/4hyzpf*
[3] *tinyurl.com/6m6vsr*

570 MW:
*tinyurl.com/5vmtve*

0ufqo8t02@sneakemail.com

TheFuelMultipliersWillWinWillWinWillWin:

The oil price remains above 125 USD, People needing their car for work have a hard time and the Europeans and Northern Americans heating their homes with Gas and Oil could face the most expensive winter ever.

Nevertheless, the Energy revolution has begun. The Solar Millennium has eventually been unleashed, let’s transform this world and its markets:

Water for the deserts of Africa and America, Power for the People; Energy Revolution, Solar Millennium !

Solar Millennium is also the Name of a Company, awarded with the ENERGY GLOBE AWARD in the category Fire[1]. This company currently builds the first real utility scale solar-thermal power plants in Spain.

The German Magazine “Der Spiegel” wrote “How Europe gets rid of Coal and Gas”[2] and “That’s how Oil becomes redundant for the USA”[3] and refers to visions that can become reality in the next decade.

And it can be achieved by building parabolic mirrors in sunny regions to produce steam to run a turbine and power generation.

These solar thermal power plants are running so efficient today, that soon economies of scale will allow them to replace traditional energy production.

Remaining process heat can be used to for sea-water desalination. Hence the ideal spots for such power plants - sunny and not too far from the sea - are usually in need for drinking water.

Parabolic mirror power plants, as those built in Spain, accumulate energy in molten salt tanks and are able to produce power also during the night time. The turbines run 7,5 hours after sunset and cloudy periods are bridged.

With a co-firing of 10%-20% and with reasonable financing continuous power production and cost effectiveness may be achieved today, especially at utility scale.

They are hence “fuel multipliers”, whereas utility scale photo voltaic power and wind wind power are just “fuel savers” - “Sun gone, Wind away: No more Power”.

To realize solar powered two digit percent fractions of energy production in Europe or the USA or to power entire cities, one can only build utility scale solar thermal power plants in the earth’s sun belt.

The power transport is not a big problem any more as high voltage DC-Transmissions just loose 3% per 1000km.

[1] *http://tinyurl.com/6n74mq*
[2] *http://tinyurl.com/4hyzpf*
[3] *http://tinyurl.com/6m6vsr*

570 MW:
http://www.inlandnewstoday.com/story.php?s=1566

0ufqo8t02@sneakemail.com

Joseph Herring:

Build more and more Solar. Where can you go wrong? Panels are easy to maintain and liberate us somewhat from the constant mess of petroleum fuel emissions. What better uses for an empty desert are there?

appalachian:

The point is that a massive corporation which specializes in everything from construction, transportation, and electronics should be intelligent enough to foresee profitability in long-term investment in alternative sources of energy. Many are concerned that energy companies are downplaying the threat of high oil prices and environmental damage because of the threats these controversies pose to profits in the short run (which come primarily from petroleum).

Robert of Los Angeles:

The point has made already but "How does Abu Dhabi differ from Exxon?"
1) One is a country which has many needs and priorities, one is a corporation specializing in profiting from petrochemical extraction and distribution
2) One is a city surrounded by a desert with nearly 24-7 maximum solar potential and nearly non-existent "not in my backyard" feedback, and one is not
3) Both have "surplus profits" but one is not interested in an eventual return on investment, and the other has millions of shareholders who insist on it.

I don't discount that solar power should be one avenue of a diversified energy supply but Exxon not being an electric utility nor a manufacturer / distributor of generators, converters or indirect devices (like solar water heating) has no particular expertise to bring to bear in diversifying into this business.

Andre:

Not to say that oil isn't running low, but just because it might be a good idea doesn't make EXXON morally responsible for persuing it. If they had shifted massive investments into Solar in the 70's, the last time it was popular, the company probably wouldn't exist now. From a business perspective they can keep doing what they are doing and ring up multi billion dollar profits for decades, or dry up that future revenue, in the unknown hope that solar will generate similar returns.

Mohamed MALLECK,Swift Current, Canada:

Ryan at Austin TX,

Sorry, Sir, for the mix-up with Ryan.

I meant to address Ryan who posted at 11:15 p.m. on May 29.

Mohamed MALLECK,Swift Current, Canada:

Ryan Deaver at Austin Texas

Ryan writes : "Why is it that people expect that an OIL company should invest in alternative energy out of the goodness of their heats? If you were a shareholder you would expect that they would do so when and if it made the best business sense, wouldn't you?"

The answer is simple: for the same reason that Bangladeshi Economist Mohammed Yunus, who could have made a very good career at the World Bank and would have made a far, far better President of the World Bank than former Bush-best-friend Wolfie chose, instead, to launch the Grameen Bank which is now not only profitable but contributes so very much to REAL poverty alleviation rather than hypocritical Bush-Blair-type slogans about making poverty history.

Prahalad has written about "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid".

Asia is soon setting up its own Asian Nato, and the Shanghai Cooperation Council is soon admitting Iran and India despite the Bush Administration attempts to bully India into torpedoing the Iran-Pakistan-India-China oil-and- gas pipeline.

Get the picture Ryan? When a Fox News Reporter recently quizzed Bill Clinton antagonistically about the 100 million dollars he got from Nursultan Nazarbayev in a trilateral deal involving Bill, the Kazakh dictator's wish to clinch the Chairmanship of the OSCE and a Canadian Uranium mining magante, the only response he could find was : "Dick Cheney did the same type of deal".

That is why a majority of American by a wide margin prefer Obama and his promise of change you can believe in.

Others don't learn from either their mistakes or other peoples' successes.

Leave alone Exxon to account to its shareholders about the consequences of its choice of investment strategy, and tell WAPO readers with which group you identify yourself.

Fate:

Ryan wrote: "I suppose when that happens you people will be outraged that the solar company isn't investing in wind power."

Your analogy would make more sense if the solar company's source of solar cells, "sand", was going away. And my guess is the investors would encourage a solar company to start investing in other technologies as its main resource was drying up. They should after all be interested in the company surviving, not the product it produces, which in the case of oil has a limited lifetime.

Exxon does three things:
1) Drills for oil and sells it or uses it.
2) Refines oil into gasoline, deisel and other products.
3) Distributes gasoline and its other oil based products through its pipelines and other distribution systems.

Only number 3 will be a viable business as ethanol replaces gasoline over the next 50 years. Exxon will then just be another pipeline company, or maybe an importer of ethanol. Either way shareholders are going to see their hugely profitable company reduced to being a simple distribution company. That is what the Rockefellers see in the longterm. Too bad the other investors, and Exxon executives, can only see the shortterm huge profits, which will disappear quickly when the oil bubble pops.

Fate:

The Rockefellers can see the long term, which is where they have always invested. They would like to see the company they consider part of their family to survive past the next 50 years, which it will not if it sticks to being purely an oil company.

It will be interesting to see what the Rockefellers do in the next year. If they shift their money out of Exxon and into, say, First Solar and other new energy sources, expect Exxon's shareholders and the shareholders of other oil companies to get nervous. That will lead to the next ripple in our move away from oil, oil company stock prices dropping as people shift out of a company with a limited lifetime.

In about 20 years, as we get closer to the time oil runs out, we will watch to see who is last out the door. The entire US oil market will convulse, refineries will be in the same boat, capital for these companies will shift away as the oil dries up, and we had better be ready with ethanol and other substitutes for our energy needs. But I doubt we will. We Americans are great at meeting diversity, we're just bad at forseeing it and worse at preparing for what we can foresee. Exxon and its shareholders, minus the Rockefellers, are just one example of this. I foresee purchasing ethanol by 2030 from Brazil, the only nation in this hemisphere that foresaw the coming crisis and started preparing for it back in the 1970s. Good thing America has vast economic wealth. We will need it in this 21st century.

ryan deaver, austin, tx:

"Why is it that people expect that an OIL company should invest in alternative energy out of the goodness of their heats? If you were a shareholder you would expect that they would do so when and if it made the best business sense, wouldn't you?"

anyone who cares to look can see that oil is a dwindling resource that, while still increasingly important on the world market, will lose market share in the relatively near future.
corporations are beholden to more than just their shareholders, they are responsible for their impact on the health and welfare of their consumers, neighbors, and the very Earth as well.
i'm sure no one is surprised at exxon's refusal to embrace alternative energy on moral grounds, but in the interest of continuing to be profitable in the future it would seem wise to invest some of the capital earned in boom times in research that will see them and their shareholders through the likely bust.
exxon's position is one of arrogance, defying what they know to be the proper course of action in the long term in pursuit of (even) higher profits now.
other companies may be "going green" solely to burnish their image or as a response to public pressure. great! i haven't spent a dime at exxon in 3 years, and i won't until their policies change. i invite all Americans with foresight to join me in boycotting exxon, and applying some public pressure.

ryan:

Why is it that people expect that an OIL company should invest in alternative energy out of the goodness of their heats? If you were a shareholder you would expect that they would do so when and if it made the best business sense, wouldn't you?

We should be proud that the US leads the world in solar technology and that when the time is right for customers of that technology to purchase it in large scales that a US company will benefit. I suppose when that happens you people will be outraged that the solar company isn't investing in wind power.

Mohamed MALLECK,Swift Current, Canada:

I hate to make trite comments, but I have never been satisfied with the answer, given by no less a clear-headed guy like Scott Ritter when asked whether Big Oil might not have been behind the decision to invade Iraq, that no, there was too much incompetence in that catastrophic strategic move for Big Oil to have been involved. When I read Scott Ritter;s response, I thought : "Scott is confusing greed with competence".

Big Oil is as smart as 'the-smartest-guys-in-the- room' predators as the Enron boys.

I also remember that, when Thomas Friedman was asked by Lebanense Broadcasting Corporation newsreader Giselle, back around 2003, whether the frenzied uproar calling for an invasion of Iraq masked a dishonest strategy by the American Administration to lay its hands on Iraq's oil as its own oik reserves run out, he condescendingly replied: " No, Giselle! We're doing fine, thank you".

Now, the nincompoop is trying to make aliving by telling Hew York Times readers that, with Bush being recently rebuffed by the Saudis in his plea to have the Kingdom increase oil supply (a pitiful imploration echoed by Gordon Brown in his UK Guardian article today and disguising itself in a baffling somersault as a statesman's call for global solidarity), power has shifted away from America's hegemony. Well, we can now throw a few pennies into a place within Tom's reach and ackowledge that he is as smart as the Enron-types and the Exxon-types.

Mark Smith:

Just plain pitiful!

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.