BP gave being green a try, guys, really! They had a solar panel business going, but they had to kick it to the curb, because they just couldn't afford it. Times are tough, you know? Heck, the company only has $20 billion to spend on oil and gas every year. They have to pinch … well, not pennies, exactly, but $10,000 bills.*
Mike Petrucci, chief executive of BP Solar, wrote to his remaining 100 staff last week, saying "the continuing global economic challenges have significantly impacted the solar industry, making it difficult to sustain long-term returns for the company."
A spokesman for the wider group said the plunging value worldwide of solar panels – partly as a result of low-cost competition from China – had convinced BP that it had no future in a "commoditised" business.
BP has committed to spending $8 billion on renewable power through 2015, and the company says it'll fulfill that promise even as it shutters solar panel factories and lays off 1,750 staffers. But that's dwarfed by the annual expenditure on oil and gas. This puts them right in line with other oil companies, whose supposed commitments to renewables are also almost completely bogus, but it's particularly jarring because BP is in so much environmental debt — and because prior to the Gulf oil spill, BP talked a real big green game.
Given that BP has now closed its solar panel factories, shut down its alternative energy headquarters, and moved away from carbon capture and storage, it's not clear what the company's "Beyond Petroleum" slogan means anymore. Beyond petroleum to … other petroleum products?
* I looked it up and there are still a couple hundred in circulation, and statistically oil companies probably have all of them.