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Oil company? No, energy company

Rural landscape spoilt by windfarm pylons

Oil companies started realising some time ago that it would be wise to diversify their business. There won't always be oil, but people will always need energy: the oil companies want to make sure they're the ones providing that energy, whatever form it takes.

BP explicitly demonstrated this in 2001 when it dropped its name of British Petroleum, and renamed itself BP plc. It tried to 'green' its image, adopting the slogan "Beyond Petroleum" and changing its logo to a friendly, yellow and green sunflower. this week, Total, one of the world's largest oil companies, announced it is to invest $1.38bn in a solar panel manufacturing company. The energy industry had been expecting Total to invest in nuclear, but Fukusmea has rather reduced enthusiasm for nuclear energy. "The world future energy balance will be the result of a long-term transition in which renewable energies will take their place alongside conventional resources," said Philippe Boisseau, president of Total's gas and power division. Renewables are a useful hedge, and Total has held shares in solar firms since the 1980s.

Energy demand is outstripping population growth. Transitions to mass uptake of new ways of generating and distributing energy take many years to implement. Just as a stock broker might advise you not to invest all your eggs in one basket, so energy companies recognise the merit in broadening their energy portfolio. Whichever way the energy market goes, they want to be the ones controlling it and making big profits for their investors. The energy mix may change, but the names won't.


This is just one of the stories from my energy talk

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