British Petroleum (BP) the multi billion dollar Oil and Gas Conglomerate is a strange player in the Renewable Energy Sector of Solar Energy.BP was a dominant company amongst the top 10 global manufacturers of solar panels till a few years ago.However the lack of interest on the part of management,low investment,lack of R&D has made it a bit player in the fast growing solar panel market.Companies which did not exist till a few years ago have outpaced BP to become top solar panel producers.However BP Solar Panels continue to sell in a number of market because of existing sales relationships and brand name.However it is only uneducated and uninformed consumers who are buying BP Solar Panels in my opinion.BP Solar Panels should be avoided both from an economic point of view and from the environment perspective.
Note BP has been closing down its solar panel factories in different parts of the world as it has not managed to compete with lower cost competition from the Chinese companies.It has also not put enough investment the solar industry despite having a first mover advantage.BP now outsources most of the production to Asian companies like JA Solar.Some of its production facilities are in JV with Asian companies like Tata Power.BP sells its solar panels at higher prices which can easily be bought directly from solar panel producers in China and Taiwan.Note the quality of these solar panels are better if not equal to that of BP Solar.So from a pricing and economic perspective it makes no sense to buy BP Solar Panels.Note BP Solar has closed down its US,Australia and Spain factories.It now outsources manufacturing to low cost locations in India,Mexico and China.While outsourcing itself does not make a product bad,note high quality low cost products are available from the same places,then what is the need of buying the same expensive product – BP Solar Panels in this case.Solar Panels are not iPads with great proprietary technology,they are more like commodities with a little bit of difference in quality.
BP Solar closed its solar manufacturing plant in Frederick, Maryland, on Friday, with the loss of 320 jobs – despite achieving good growth in its sales.
Confirming closure of the plant, BP Solar CEO Reyad Fezzani said: “This was a difficult decision and we deeply regret the impact it will have on our employees and the community.”
BP had first revealed its plan to phase out the Frederick plant this time last year. Initially, 140 jobs were lost out the then-total of 600, as module assembly ceased. At the same time, BP Solar closed its manufacturing plant in Madrid, Spain.
Mr Fezzani said solar prices had declined by 40%-50% since the onset of the economic slow-down,
He explained: “By shifting our supply to a high quality, low cost supply base to serve both distribution customers and large scale projects, we have strengthened our position as a provider of competitive solar solutions with our offer of the highest lifetime value.”
Environment and Green Perspective
BP has been in the limelight for its major disaster it cause off the coast of USA in the Gulf Oil Spill.Its bad management,lack of responsibility has already been highlighted in the media and this blog.To buy solar panels from such a company would seem to be contradictory to going Green.Note Shell the other major Oil and Gas Conglomerate has already left the solar industry despite having impressive R&D and production facilities.These Oil and Gas Majors have little interest in developing the Green Industry as it would infringe on their core Oil and Gas Franchise.Their Corporate Leaders have no incentive to save the Environment or prevent Climate Change.For this reason alone,avoid BP Solar Panels.
BP’s conduct during the whole Oil Spill has been one of Lying,Cover ups,making over inflated claims and plain incompetence.It woke up a week after the Oil Spill as pressure mounted on it from the US administration and the civil society.It was making tall claims during its “dome” and “top kill” efforts which were untried at these ocean depths.Its conduct previous to the disaster with regard to safety has also been just short of criminal negligence.BP has also consistently under balled the barrels of oil figures leaking from the doomed oil rig.The monetary claim is certain to rise into a multi billion dollar figure politicians join the bash BP bandwagon
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