Oil Giant Makes Major Commitment to Renewables

Shell will invest between US$500 million and $1 billion over the next five years to increase its use of renewable energy.

LONDON, England, UK, 2001-06-14 [SolarAccess.com] Shell will invest between US$500 million and $1 billion over the next five years to increase its use of renewable energy. The commercial focus will be on wind and solar photovoltaics, but the oil company will also develop its capacity in biomass, geothermal and hydrogen, according to a presentation to shareholders today. Renewables contribute a “small but growing share of primary energy” around the world, and grew at annual rates of 8 percent during the past decade, compared to 2 percent for natural gas, hydro and nuclear, and an annual decline of 1 percent for coal. Among renewables, wind grew at 24 percent and PV grew at 22 percent per year. The growth is driven by climate change, supply security, technical development and personal choice, explains Karen de Segundo, CEO of Shell Renewables, who quotes NREL research to indicate that 50 percent of consumers are willing to pay a monthly premium of $10 to obtain green power. The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies supplies 3 percent of the global market for PV, and its joint venture with Siemens resulted in total shipments last year of 33 MW, behind Kyocera at 55 MW, Sharp at 54 and BP at 50 MW, but ahead of ASE at 15, Astropower at 12 and all others at 16 MW. Shell is involved in polycrystalline silicon, while Siemens is involved in mono and tricrystaline, and both are involved in thin film PV. The cost of PV continues to drop and Shell predicts that sales of solar electric panels will be the highest growth market for the next ten years, at 28 percent annual growth. The company has set a goal of becoming a top tier player in the global market, and to become the first or second-place supplier in Europe and the United States, as well as being a major player in Japan. Wind will grow at 25 percent per annum, predicts Shell, because it is increasingly competitive with conventional generation. The company will focus on double-digit return from installations in Europe, North Africa and North America, and will split its turbines between on-shore and off-shore markets. Shell currently is participating in two trial projects with a total capacity of 8 MW, and is evaluating 400 MW of projects in Britain, the Netherlands, Morocco and the U.S. The presentation will be repeated on Friday in New York.
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