In an attempt to burnish its green credentials, the British Energy firm BP has been telling us for years its initials stand for “Beyond Petroleum.” As part of this campaign, the company has been aggressively touting the achievements of its relatively small alternative energy division. Yet a recent announcement may prompt a change to a new acronym: BS — Beyond Solar. From the FT:
BP will close the chapter on more than 40 years of history after deciding to shut down its solar business, once regarded as one of its flagship alternative energy divisions.The group has told staff that it had made the decision after the business became unprofitable. […]“Over the last six months we have realised that we simply can’t make any money from solar,” a spokesman confirmed.
The cycle of solar investments followed by solar bankruptcies dates back to the 1970s, and shows little sign of letting up during these “green” years. Despite the fervent wishes of ardent greens, a half-century of R&D has failed to turn solar power into a profitable enterprise. “The energy of the future” they call it. It is, and it always will be.There is no doubt that solar energy could be a game changer — but there is also no doubt that isn’t one yet. Without massive subsidies or large carbon taxes to make competing forms of energy uncompetitive, solar can’t fly. At a time when governments around the world are getting credit downgrades, cutting their deficits, and figuring out how to stiff retirees whose pensions cannot be paid, there won’t be a lot of money around to throw at the sun.