June 12 (UPI) -- The world's biggest oil and gas companies could capitalize on renewable energy momentum and decrease portfolio risk, a consultant group found.
Wood Mackenzie said wind and solar energy are emerging as commercial prospects that could help diversify legacy oil and gas assets in companies from Chevron to BP.
"The growth opportunity in renewables cannot be ignored," Tom Ellacott, a senior vice president for corporate analysis, said in a statement. "We forecast average annual growth rates of 6 percent for wind and 11 percent for solar over the next 20 years."
Wood Mackenzie's report said it was the European oil and gas companies in particular that were moving quickly into the fast-growing market for renewable energy.
Last week, Norwegian energy company Statoil outlined a goal to steer up to 20 percent of its annual investments toward renewable energy by 2030. In the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to leave the international Paris climate agreement, Geoff Morell, a spokesperson from BP, told UPI the company was looking for more balance in its portfolio.
"BP continues to believe that it's possible to provide the world the energy needs and achieve economic growth while also helping to transition the world to lower-carbon forms of energy," he said.
Wood Mackenzie's report said renewable energy could account for about 20 percent of total capital investments from the most active sector participants in the coming decades, but the growth forecast is still not strong enough to upend oil and natural gas.
"The scale of the opportunity is simply not there on our forecasts for solar and wind, at least not in the next 20 years," Ellacott said.
A March report from the International Renewable Energy Agency found total global renewable energy capacity increased last year by 161 gigawatts, reaching 2,000 GW by the end of the year.
For the first time ever, new power from solar energy outpaced wind, with Asian economies recording the largest expansion in solar capacity with a gain of 50 GW. Nearly half of that came from China. For Europe, Germany and the United Kingdom recorded the largest regional gains in wind energy capacity.
According to estimates from the U.S. Energy Department, 1 gigawatt of energy is enough to power 100 million LED light bulbs.