One of the world’s biggest oil companies is working on hundreds of low-carbon energy projects, from algae engineered to bloom into biofuels and cells that turn emissions into electricity.
The work by Exxon Mobil Corp. includes research on environmentally friendly technologies in five to 10 key areas, according to Vice President of Research and Development Vijay Swarup. While any commercial breakthrough is at least a decade away, Exxon’s support for clean energy suggests the world’s most valuable publicly traded oil company is looking toward the possibility of a future where fossil fuels are less dominant.
While Exxon has discussed some of its research before and runs advertisements about its work in algae, the remarks from Swarup are the first indication of the breadth of the oil company’s interests in alternative energies. It’s part of the $1 billion a year Exxon spends on research worldwide and the $8 billion it has spent since 2000 researching, developing, and deploying low-carbon technologies.
“These areas are massively challenging, and if we can solve those, they will have huge impacts on our business,” said Swarup in a phone interview. “We bring more than money. We bring the science, the commitment to research.”
Exxon didn’t disclose the exact amount it’s spending on the green technologies. The broader investments it has made since the beginning of the century also include things like managing methane emissions from oil wells, on co-generation, and on making its plants more efficient.
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