ExxonMobil to Join Stanford Strategic Energy Alliance

  • Builds on Global Climate and Energy Project’s 15 years of success
  • Strong science and exploratory research to develop low-carbon energy solutions
  • $20 million commitment in addition to ExxonMobil’s GCEP investment of more than $100 million
  • Expands company’s collaborative work with academic and research institutions around the world

IRVING, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) today announced that it will become the first founding member of the new Stanford Strategic Energy Alliance, an initiative that will examine ways to improve energy access, security and technology while reducing impacts on the environment. As part of its commitment, ExxonMobil will contribute $20 million in funding over five years to research and develop lower-carbon energy solutions.

The Stanford Strategic Energy Alliance builds on the success of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), also led by Stanford, which focused exclusively on low-emissions, high-efficiency energy technologies. ExxonMobil has sponsored GCEP since its inception in 2002 with a commitment of $100 million and additional contributions toward specific projects. In its 15 years of work, GCEP has evolved into a pioneering collaboration of scientists, engineers, researchers and students focused on identifying breakthrough low greenhouse gas emission energy technologies that could be developed and deployed on a large scale.

“ExxonMobil has worked with Stanford to advance low-carbon technologies over the last 15 years, and we’re excited to be the first founding member of this new endeavor,” said Bruce March, president of the ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. “Identifying scalable solutions for addressing the dual challenge of supplying energy to meet global demand while minimizing the risk of climate change is one of our core missions. We are continuously looking for ways to improve existing supply options and manufacturing processes while managing carbon intensity.”

Since its creation, GCEP has sponsored more than 100 research programs in the United States, Europe, Australia, China and Japan, and has resulted in over 900 papers in leading journals and more than 1,200 presentations at conferences. Building on fundamental science, significant advances have been made in the areas of photovoltaic energy, renewable and lower carbon fossil fuels, batteries and fuel cells. More than 60 technologies have also been developed and 15 patents have been issued. Multiple companies have also started up as a direct result of or inspiration from GCEP research.

The new Stanford Strategic Energy Alliance will pair industry alliance members and Stanford professors who share common research objectives across the spectrum of energy topics from science and engineering to policy and business. Managed by the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy, the alliance will also fund some early-stage research at the direction of its faculty leadership.

ExxonMobil’s support for the Stanford Strategic Energy Alliance expands the company’s collaborative efforts with other academic and research institutions that are focused on developing an array of new energy technologies, improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The company currently works with about 80 universities in the United States, Europe and Asiato explore next-generation energy technologies, including founding members of MIT Energy InitiativePrinceton E-ffiliates Partnership and University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute.

Source: Exxon Mobil Corporation

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Media Relations, 972-940-6007

OGCI Invests in a Diverse Set of Technologies Designed to Reduce Emissions

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative is advancing efforts to develop and commercialize technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in some unexpected areas.

The voluntary organization of 10 major international oil and gas producers has finalized the first three investments of its billion-dollar investment fund, OGCI Climate Investments, to fund three low-emission technology projects.

The projects, the first in a host of planned investments, seek to make more efficient engines, reduce the environmental impacts of cement, and demonstrate the commercial viability of carbon capture and storage at a gas-fired power plant.

“OGCI Climate Investments’ goal is to deliver GHG reductions by investing in pre-commercial technologies and solutions that are both cost-effective and will scale globally,” explained OGCI Climate Investments Chief Executive Officer Pratima Rangarajan.

The group also has the unique ability to deploy the technologies in the operations of its member companies to amplify the scale an impact of its initial investments.

Promising technologies

The investments include US-based cement and concrete production company Solidia Technologies, which has patented a technology that facilitates the production of cement in a way that generates fewer emissions and uses CO2 rather than water to cure concrete.

OGCI says Solidia’s technology has the potential to lower the carbon footprint of concrete by up to 70% and water consumption by up to 80%. The project is also expected to demonstrate how carbon dioxide can be commercially re-used in an environmentally sound way.

In the OGCI report Catalyst for Change, the organization notes that the conversion of captured carbon dioxide into useable products can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in specific sectors. In fact, the report notes that OGCI is looking to “invest in a range of companies that have developed innovative and commercially viable carbon utilization technologies.”

Another recipient of OGCI funding is Achates Power, a company that is developing high-efficiency opposed-piston engines that have the potential to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by vehicles.  Achates Power plans to use the funds to accelerate the deployment of its technology across the globe alongside a broad consortium of engine makers.

The third project aims to design the world’s first full-scale natural gas power plant with carbon capture and storage, including industrial CO2 sequestration capability. OGCI Climate Investments has acquired the concept for a project in the UK and plans to work with the project team on a commercially viable concept and basic engineering design that can receive government support and attract private sector investors.

The project would also “enable neighboring energy-intensive industries to leverage the carbon dioxide transport and storage network that would be developed. This way, they too would be able to eliminate a large share of carbon dioxide from their operations,” OGCI said it its report.

The project could also advance the UK’s plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of baseline 1990 levels by 2050.

The driving force behind OGCI

Together, OGCI’s 10 member companies claim to account for more than one-fourth of global oil and gas production. Their efforts demonstrate a commitment by these top producers – which include several national oil companies – to lessen the environmental impact of fossil fuels and collaborate on actions to reduce emissions.

The roster of members includes BP, China National Petroleum Corp., Eni, Pemex, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Statoil and Total. An eleventh member, Brazil’s Petrobras, is set to formally join the group soon.

By collaborating thorough OGCI, the producers aim to be a catalyst for across the oil and gas industry and beyond. Since they produce so much of the world’s energy, the report says that makes them “important players in ensuring the supply of reliable and affordable energy, and gives us the opportunity to advance the transition to a low-emissions future.”

Statoil Makes First Solar Investment, Highlights a Growing Trend

Norwegian oil major Statoil has purchased its very first stake in a solar project, agreeing to pay $25 million to acquire 40% of the 162 MW Apodi solar asset in Brazil. The deal is the latest example of a growing trend of major oil and gas companies taking stakes in renewable energy projects.

“The Apodi asset is a sensible first step into the solar industry and can demonstrate how solar can provide Statoil with scale-able and profitable growth opportunities,” Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of New Energy Solutions at Statoil, said in a press release.

Statoil agreed to purchase the project stake from Norwegian independent solar power producer Scatec Solar in October. The purchase price also included a 50% share in the project execution company, which will enable Statoil to participate and the building and operation of more Brazilian solar projects in the future.

“The potential for solar energy in Brazil is substantial and together with Statoil we are increasing our ambitions further in this market. We are bringing into the partnership a strong track record as an integrated independent solar power producer, while Statoil has a strong engagement and experience from Brazil through its other energy activities,” said Scatec Solar Chief Executive Officer Raymond Carlsen.

About the Adopi Solar Project

The Apodi solar project is set to provide electricity for about 160,000 households. Construction of Apodi was set to start in October 2017, with completion expected by the end of 2018. The total capital expenditure budget for the development is estimated at $215 million. Funding for the project is comprised of 65% project financing and a 35% equity contribution. Statoil’s portion of the equity share is estimated at $30 million.

The Apodi solar project is in the Quixeré municipality of the state of Ceará in northeast Brazil. It is fully-permitted with a grid connection and has a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) awarded in 2015 at an auction organized by the Brazilian government. The PPA had an inflation adjusted offtake price equivalent to $104 per MWh in 2017.

In recent years, Statoil estimates about 3GW of solar projects have been awarded in Brazil in three consecutive utility scale solar auctions. Another 7GW is planned to be awarded by 2024.

Following the transaction, Statoil will hold a 40% share in the project alongside Scatec Solar (40%) and ApodiPar (20%).

Statoil’s Green Energy Ambitions

Though the Apodi project is Statoil’s first solar venture, it is not the company’s first foray into renewable energy. Since 2012, Statoil has amassed a sizable wind portfolio that includes three UK wind farms, one of which is the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, Hywind Scotland. In 2016, the company also purchased a 50% stake in the Arkona offshore wind farm planned in Germany, which is set to come online in 2019.

Statoil’s wind portfolio is capable of providing power to more than 1 million homes.

“As part of Statoil’s strategy to actively complement our oil and gas portfolio with profitable renewable energy sources, we have so far focused on offshore wind where we have a unique competitive advantage building on over 40 years with oil and gas activities, “Rummelhoff said.

More Supermajors are Investing in Renewables

Statoil is just one of several major oil and gas companies that are making moves into the renewables business. In December 2017 alone, several notable investment in the sector were inked by BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco.

That month, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAVE) led a financing round that raised $8 million euros (US$9.6 million) for a German company that is commercializing a new technology for the fabrication of silicon wafers for photovoltaics called NexWafe.

Shell Technology Ventures B.V., the corporate venture capital arm of Royal Dutch Shell, was likewise part of a group of investors that invested a combined $9 million in a Series B equity round for SolarNow, a Dutch company that installs off-grid solar energy systems in East Africa.

Meanwhile, BP paid $200 million for a 43% equity stake in Lightsource, the largest solar development company in Europe that is focused on acquiring, developing and managing large-scale solar projects.

Like Statoil, BP’s move is also part of a concerted effort to invest in renewables. BP has an Alternative Energy Business with interests in onshore wind energy across the US capable of generating 2.3GW, and as well as stakes in Brazilian biofuels plants that produce around 800 million liters of ethanol equivalent per year.

Green Energy is Gaining Steam

These deals comes as technological improvements and lower costs are transforming solar into an attractive power source that can compete with traditional sources of energy in important markets. BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy notes that global installed solar generating capacity more than tripled from 2013 to 2016, rising by more than 30% in 2016 alone.

The growing viability of renewable energy sources is evident across the globe, and the appetite for these projects is increasing globally as countries work to meet commitments made during the Paris Agreement in 2015 amid growing concern about climate change.

Now, the building momentum for these installations has even caught the eye of supermajors like Statoil, indicating that an undeniable wave of change is underway in the way the world thinks about energy.

UN Report Examines Sustainable Development Goals for Oil & Gas

A comprehensive plan of action for social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic development released by a trio of organizations outlines ways that the oil and gas industry can promote sustainable development.

The report, Mapping the oil and gas industry to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas, explains how the industry can contribute to the achieving 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in January of 2016. The SDGs address a number of areas, including climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption and justice.

“The overarching aim for businesses in the context of sustainable development should be to do business responsibly—to contribute to society, minimize risks and to do no harm,” according to the report’s executive summary.

The report was jointly released by UNDP, the International Finance Corporation and IPIECA, a global industry association for social and environmental issues in the oil and gas industry. It found that oil and gas companies can help achieve the SDGs by exemplifying good practices and collaborating on sustainable development, among other things.

“Achieving the goals will require partnership and collaboration between and among all sectors and industries. By mapping the linkages between the oil and gas industry and the SDGs, we hope to encourage our clients and partners to further embed the goals into their business and operations and seek out new, innovative ways to contribute to global development,” Bernard Sheahan, the global director of Infrastructure and Natural Resources at IFC, said in a press release.

The report was released last summer at the Sustainable Development Goals Business Forum organized in conjunction with the UN High-Level Political Forum.

The three organizations spend a year preparing the report, and the final product includes consultation and input from the oil and gas industry as well as from civil society, academia and international organizations.

For more information, download the report here.

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