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Originally published March 15 2007

Big Oil invests big in wind power

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

( Shell Oil Co. and BP plc (formerly British Petroleum) recently have become two of the largest investors in commercial wind power in the United States. Shell ranks among the top five wind-power generators, while BP has announced its intent to develop projects producing 550 megawatts of electricity - one-sixth of total wind output projected for the United States in 2007.

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What you need to know - Conventional View

• BP and Shell both have said that the primary motivation for investing in wind power is to make money. Market forecasts predict that "renewable" (non-fossil fuel) energy sources will supply one-third of the world's electricity by 2050.

• Robert Lukefahr, president of BP Alternative Energy North America, attributed the rising demand for wind power to concerns about global warming and increasing desire for domestically produced power and decreased dependence on foreign sources.

• Forty-one percent of the U.S.'s carbon dioxide emissions come from power plants.
Currently, the primary source of electricity for the United States is coal, which produces the most greenhouse gases of all electricity sources.

• Critics of wind power have charged that the clusters of giant windmills used to generate electricity pose a danger to flying animal species such as birds and bats. Some also speculate that large-scale dependence on wind power might produce climate-changing effects, due to the slowing of air caused by the turbines.

• Quote: "Shell and BP see wind as an increasingly important part of the energy industry. They are looking to continue to grow." - Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association

Resources you need to know

• American Wind Energy Association (

• BP Alternative Energy North America (

• Shell Renewables (

More about wind power (

Bottom line

• Shell and BP have become major investors in the wind energy field as demand increases for renewable energy sources.

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