And the Solar energy business is growing quickly. But its future growth will not include oil giant BP. Yesterday, at an industry conference in Houston, the head of BP made it clear his company is done with solar.

NPR's Jeff Brady reports.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: BP made a big deal out of its Beyond Petroleum campaign, and 13 years back changed its logo to look like the sun. So this, from chief executive Bob Dudley, is striking.

BOB DUDLEY: We have thrown in the towel on solar. Not that solar energy isn't a viable energy source, but we worked at it for 35 years and we really never made money, so we have exited the solar business.

BRADY: That doesn't mean the solar industry is in trouble, though, says Rachel Shimshak with the Renewable Northwest Project.

RACHEL SHIMSHAK: I think there's a lot of competition in the solar business these days, which is a good thing.

BRADY: Thanks largely to manufacturing in Asia, prices for individual solar panels have fallen nearly 60 percent in the past two years. Now more people can afford to install panels. Still, less than one-half of one-percent of the country's electricity currently comes from solar.

Rhone Resch with the Solar Energy Industries Association says the rest of the electricity business has had a long time to grow.

RHONE RESCH: So, for the solar industry, which has really just caught hold in the last four or five years, it's going to take a few decades before we make a significant dent.

BRADY: While BP has thrown in the towel on solar, the company says it's still committed to other renewable resources, like wind and biofuels.

Jeff Brady, NPR News.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from