Shell also goes beyond petroleum

Royal Dutch/Shell said it would spend up to $1 bn over the next five years developing a range of renewable energy sources with emphasis on wind and solar energy. In a presentation to investors in London yesterday, Shell claimed that, through its Siemens joint venture, it “is now one of the solar photovoltaic industry’s top tier players, and is building a platform for growth in the wind energy sector”.

Shell’s development of alternative energy sources mirrors efforts by BP to portray itself as environmentally friendly and not wedded to fossil fuels. Environmentalists remain unconvinced, although a spokesman for Greenpeace was reported in the Financial Times as saying, ” This widens the gap between progressive energy companies like Shell and BP and redneck oil companies, like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, which are doing very little to develop renewables.”

Yesterday’s presentations were given by Karen de Segundo, Chief Executive Officer of Shell Renewables and Evert Henkes, Chief Executive Officer, of Shell Chemicals, together with members of their executive committees. Karen de Segundo explained that solar photovoltaic and wind power are the fastest growing areas of the global renewables industry and, as well as focusing these, Shell Renewables would also be evaluating opportunities in biomass. In addition the group has set up a separate company to develop a hydrogen business and development work is underway in geothermal.

Shell Renewables recently established a joint venture with Siemens Solar, in which Shell has a 33 per cent share. The venture, with a global market share of approximately 15 per cent, aims to drive down photovoltaic costs through its multiple crystalline and thin film technologies.

The key objective for the solar business is to increase in line with the market, currently growing at around 25 per cent a year, said de Segundo.

Shell is currently participating in two trial projects totalling 8 MW of wind generating capacity. Projects are being evaluated in the UK, Netherlands, Morocco and the USA totalling 400 MW. Shell said its aim in the wind business was “to create a platform for growth, that builds on its strengths, from projects that typically give double digit project returns on an equity basis”.

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