Copyright: BPOil giant, BP has selected a consortium led by the University of California, Berkeley for a $500 million research programme focusing mostly on clean energy and biofuels.

“This is our generation’s moon shot,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said at a press conference to announce the move. BP will allocate 80% of the money to UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the rest going to the University of Illinois.

“We are joining with some of the world’s best science and engineering talent to meet the world’s demand for low carbon energy,” said Bob Malone, president of BP America.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also spoke at the press conference, said the research institute is a perfect complement to California’s landmark climate change law to cut greenhouse gas emissions and its new rule on low-carbon gasoline.

“California is the leader in the clean-energy revolution,” said Schwarzenegger, who put $40 million into his proposed state budget for a new building on the Berkeley campus to house the institute.

However, Sir Richard Sykes, the rector of Imperial College, London and former chairman of GlaxoSmithKline has claimed that the award had been given to Berkeley by BP in part to restore the oil giant’s damaged corporate reputation in the US. He has also claimed that Berkeley won the grant because of aggressive lobbying by Schwarzenegger.  Sir Richard “they would have had a terrible press if they had not given in to the US considering all of Arnie’s tantrums.”

No sour grapes there then…

Other articles cited:

Mark Golden, “BP Picks Berkeley, U Illinois For $500MM Biofuel Research”, Dow Jones Newswires, February 2, 2007