1975 Imperial Oil Report on Solar Energy Opportunities

This 1975 document from Imperial Oil Ltd, the Canadian subsidiary of Exxon, is a report commissioned by Imperial from ADL Impact Services regarding the feasibility of various kinds of renewable energy. This document is part of the ClimateFiles Imperial Oil document set, gleaned by DeSmog researchers from the Glenbow Imperial Oil Archive Collection.

ADL’s report predicts an increase in the importance of renewable options, “as conventional sources and other alternatives are found to present potential problems in terms of resource conservation, public health, international trade and politics, environmental protection, and social equity.” The report also encourages both producers and consumers to “take the next logical steps toward developing a mass market through selected and effective subsidy programs.” Considering all the variables involved with energy markets, the report states that “theoretically, up to 75% of the energy for [household and commercial] uses could be provided by solar energy. We estimate the potential market for solar climate control at over $1 billion by 1985.” 

The report also assesses the feasibility of implementing energy sources like wind, or ocean thermal gradients. The tone and content of the report, produced over 40 years ago, are surprisingly optimistic about the future of renewable energy sources and their potential to out-compete fossil fuels. However, over the ensuing decades, governments in the United States and Canada failed to provide the subsidies and support called for in this report. Industry players like Imperial Oil Limited and its parent company Exxon were influential in government decisions over environmental regulation, and maintained their role as the recipients of government subsidies rather than cede to the promising frontier of renewables.

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