Home editor's blog on sun & fossil fuels A Bold Plan to turn BP around: Solar gas stations

A Bold Plan to turn BP around: Solar gas stations

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A BP solar array on the roof of the check-in concourse of the new Terminal 2, Munich Airport, Germany. © BP p.l.c

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Poll: Disasters

How responsible do you feel for oil rig & coal mine disasters?
 
Dear BP,
Life has been pretty tough for you and your CEO lately. And we know that you “want your life back”.

Frankly, that won’t happen until you’ve capped that pesky “little” oil spill you’ve got down there in the Gulf of Mexico and the tens of millions of gallons of oil that have gushed out in the last two months stop killing wildlife and stop washing up on beaches in the U.S. and Mexico.

We – and you – know your image, especially in the U.S., has taken a serious hit, as has your bottom line and your stock.

But there’s hope, quite a lot of it, actually, if you dare to step outside the deadweight of conventional thinking and, forgive the play on acronyms here, you begin to think of yourself not in terms of Backward Petroleum, but in terms of Bold Plans which will help push us Beyond Petroleum.

Here’s a BP, as in a Bold Plan, for you, one for which you, at least in comparison to some of your competitors in the global oil industry (which, as you know, is home to seven of the world’s 10 largest firms, including BP) are in pretty good position to pursue. That’s because you’ve invested a fair amount of money (not enough, by any means) in solar and you’ve even got a division, BP Solar, that produces solar panels.

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The fueling station of the future: A solar carport with a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid parked underneath.

What do oil, solar – and you and your CEO getting their life back – not to mention you positioning yourself for a lucrative economic future have to do with one another?

EV revolution
Well, you see, there’s this budding revolution in the automotive industry, you might have heard about it: Electric vehicles are on their way and most of the big boys (except, of course, Honda, which we’ve already dished it out to ;-) in the auto industry are working pretty hard to ensure that they’ve got an EV or PHEV out within the next two to three years, with Nissan and GM ahead of the others on this one.

Now, you might feel a bit threatened by this impending revolution, which could potentially reduce global demand for oil in the transportation sector. But you shouldn’t.

First, other industries – for instance, the global airline industry, the global tanker ship industry, and the trucking industry, to name a few – aren’t going EV anytime soon. And they’ll be happy to buy oil from you for a long time to come.

Second, something has to power the millions, tens of millions and perhaps, one day, hundreds of millions of EVs and PHEVs (BTW, PHEVs still will use gasoline) which will populate the world’s roadways.

One of the greatest beauties of electric cars is that their batteries are completely indifferent to what forms of energy are used to generate the electricity they store. This means that – you got it – renewable energy forms, including solar can be used to produce the electric “gas” EVs need.

That’s right, with BP Solar, you are sitting on a potential gold mine -- and the future of automotive fueling!

An 8-step plan for getting BP back on track
So, here’s what we suggest you do:

  1. Get that spill in the Gulf under control ASAP.
  2. Work damn hard to compensate and aid the many people whose lives have been radically and negatively impacted by the spill.
  3. Work just as hard to return the Gulf to a condition that is suitable for the diversity of life forms that inhabit it.
  4. Begin investing more and more of your billions in BP solar AND in electric vehicles. For instance, sink a few hundred million into Tesla Motors, an innovative, cutting-edge electric vehicle company that not only has the world’s only production EV actually out right now (more than 1,000 and counting), but, as we know, could use an infusion of cash. Of course, we know big companies want to put their money in multiple baskets. So, by all means, sink some money into other EV makers, both large and small.
  5. Invest a good chunk of money in companies like Coulomb Technologies, which is working to build a nationwide charging infrastructure for EVs in the U.S., and boasts a couple of solar-powered charging stations. And take a look at small, innovative companies like Envision Solar and Solaranda and SunPods, which are building the fueling stations of the future, meaning solar-powered carports, for both residential and commercial outlets. For instance, Dell Computers had an Envision SolarGrove system installed a year and a half ago at its main headquarters.
  6. Begin planning a nationwide network of solar-powered EV charging stations and solar carports, all, of course, topped with BP Solar panels. Work with Wal-Mart and Target and major grocery chains and other large retailers to put together plans to cover thousands of square miles of un-productive parking lot space with sleek, futuristic solar-powered carports that not only charge customers’ cars with air-pollution free electricity, but which also protect their cars from the weather.
  7. Work with solar installation companies around the U.S. to get the word out about the potential for both residential and commercial customers to generate fuel for their own, and their customers’ cars, by putting solar panels on their homes and buildings. And, of course, do what you can to make sure as many of those panels are BP solar panels as possible.
  8. As you do all of the above, publicize the hell out of it. Many people won’t buy it at first – but when they see that you are committed to transforming America’s, and the world’s, auto fueling infrastructure into clean, renewable energy system, you will see your global image rise radically. Indeed, you’ll rocket past your status quo competitors in the oil industry and secure yourself a spot as the global leader in setting the terms of the automotive fueling future

Americans – and the world – desperately want someone to show some leadership and help lift humanity out of the age of fossil fuels and into the age of renewable energy. And, although the idea might seem a bit funky at first glance, who better to do it than a powerful oil company which so desperately needs to turn things around?

Sound a bit scary or “out there”?

It shouldn’t.

Americans – and the world – desperately want someone to show some leadership and help lift humanity out of the age of fossil fuels and into the age of renewable energy. And, although the idea might seem a bit funky at first glance, who better to do it than a powerful oil company which so desperately needs to turn things around?

This is exactly what you need right now, some serious creativity that dares to challenge status quo thinking plus a forward-looking vision that tells the world, we, Bold Plan BP, get it, we really do.

The future isn’t in drilling for oil in increasingly risky-to-drill areas of the world, it’s in the alternative technologies and energy forms that will power the world and its automotive infrastructure for decades, or even centuries to come.

That’s right – the sun’s got a few years on the life span of oil, several billion, actually. So why not do the smart thing for you – and the right thing for global humanity – and help put all of us on the road toward a solar-powered EV future!

Sincerely,
A troubled but hopeful global citizen

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