Some of the world’s biggest oil companies are turning to startups to help plot their future.
Energy giants including BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC are bolstering their venture capital arms—increasing budgets, hiring more staff and doing more deals—seeking out new low-carbon technologies to help future-proof their profits. The moves come as several big oil companies work to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and expand their low-carbon activities, partly in response to growing pressure from investors and governments to cut emissions. To learn more, read, “Oil Giants Turn to Startups for Low-Carbon Energy ideas.” Reading this article may require a subscription from the media outlet.
- BP, Shell, and French peer TotalEnergies SE are now among the most active clean-tech investors, according to data provider PitchBook, with activity ramping up amid the shift to technologies like electric vehicles and solar and wind power.
- BP now expects to spend up to $200 million a year, double what it has spent in previous years.
- BP’s investments this year have included geothermal startup Eavor Technologies Inc.—where it was part of a $40 million funding round alongside Chevron Corp. —and autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica Ltd.
- Shell declined to disclose its venture capital budget but said the number of annual investments it makes had doubled since 2017 to around 20 to 25 deals a year, typically between $2 million and $5 million in size.
- This year, Shell’s investments included charging technology, hydrogen-electric planes, and a logistics company that aims to prevent trucks running without goods—all of which could ultimately reduce demand for oil.
Path to 100% Perspective:
The strategy by several international oil giants to invest in startups could reveal solutions that could evolve the oil industry into a net-zero resource. Many of these petroleum based businesses are already exploring hydrogen as a possible way to contribute to decarbonization efforts. To connect the dots further, the most economical long-duration storage is formed with green hydrogen-based future fuels, such as hydrogen, ammonia, carbon neutral methanol and methane.These fuels can be used to generate electricity in flexible power plants. Such flexible power plants provide carbon neutral firm, dispatchable capacity to the grid at any time. Flexibility, reliability and resilient grids are required to avoid power disruptions caused by extreme or intermittent weather conditions.