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Grease Monkeys: Exxon’s Slick Contribution to Renewable Energy

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

APRIL 2, 2009, 10:45 AM ET

By Keith Johnson

Big oil companies like Shell and BP may be in full retreat from renewable energy. That’s not stopping them from touting green credentials wherever they can.

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Happy, shiny people (AP)

Take Exxon. The mammoth oil company may not be making any big investments in wind farms or solar power. But Exxon is the straw that stirs the clean-energy drink around the world, apparently. Rather, Exxon greases the wheels of renewable energy—literally.

In its latest financial and operating review (huge pdf), Exxon boasts that its suite of specialty lubricants such as Mobilgear and Mobil SHC Grease are specially-engineered to make wind turbines run better. “Approximately 60% of gear-driven wind turbines manufactured around the world are filled with Mobil Industrial Lubricants,” the company says.

That’s potentially a big—and growing—market, with global wind power installations expected to more than double in the next four years.

Now, all Exxon has to do is figure out a way to get the same kind of mileage out of stodgy industrial lubricants as it has with motor oils—like the kind that powered Lewis Hamilton to the Formula 1 championship last year.

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