Renewables, especially wind and solar, are taking a role of increasing importance in the energy industry. Therefore, oil majors are progressively positioning themselves for the proclaimed energy transition. This indeed raises the question of whether sizeable capital allocation into renewable energy could indicate that oil majors are indeed transforming into energy companies. This paper helps to address this query by investigating the oil majors’ renewable energy strategies and investments. Furthermore, a complete quantification and categorization of oil majors into renewable leaders or laggards is provided. Results show that of the eight oil majors, five have undertaken considerable investment into renewable energy. The analysis also demonstrates the strong linkage between the oil majors’ proved oil reserves and their renewable energy strategies.
According to BP’s 2018 Energy Outlook, renewable energy will be the fastest-growing source of energy, increasing five-fold by 2040 thus providing around 14% of global primary energy at this future point in time. Concurrently, oil majors are gradually facing potential prospects as a declining industry: while peak demand for oil has not yet occurred so far, it may be expected that this scenario is indeed approaching as oil demand growth slows and eventually peaks.
In terms of international oil and gas companies investing in the renewable energy industry, four studies are of particular relevance to this paper. First , are exploring the range of strategies that international oil and gas companies are deploying to invest in renewable energy technologies and conclude, based on general descriptive analysis, that mixed success can be observed with investment models being still emerging.