How do we achieve a low-carbon society?
Apr. 17, 2016
See the steps we’re taking to shape a more sustainable energy future.
“We all need to take steps to achieve a sustainable world economy," says CEO Ben van Beurden in his introduction to our 2015 Sustainability Report, which launched today.
“To achieve a low-carbon society, three main areas must be addressed. Firstly, the world needs to become more energy efficient. This means adopting fundamentally different approaches in areas such as city planning, infrastructure and transport, and better energy efficiency standards. Secondly, there is a need for more renewable energy in the system, working in combination with gas to provide reliable electricity. This involves significantly increasing the use of electricity, including providing electricity to the 1.1 billion people who currently do not have access. Thirdly, the world needs to reduce the carbon intensity of the fossil-fuel share of the energy system.”
You can read Ben’s full introduction to our Sustainability Report in the document itself. Here are just a few extracts from the report showing how our activities are contributing to the energy transition
Renewable energy will play a key role in the transition to a lower-carbon future. Yet, some renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are intermittent due to the current absence of large-scale energy storage. They need a partner, such as natural gas, to maintain a reliable flow of electricity. A natural gas-fired power plant takes much less time to start and stop than a coal-fired plant.
Natural gas can also be used in combination with carbon capture and storage (CCS) to reduce CO2 emissions. CCS could remove up to 90% of CO2 emissions from power generation and play a key role in supporting the shift to a lower-carbon future.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)
In Alberta, Canada, Shell operates a joint venture (Shell interest 60%) to develop the first commercialscale CCS for reserves extracted from our oil sands operations. The facility is designed to capture up to 35% of the current CO2 emissions from the Scotford Upgrader – the site where bitumen is processed into synthetic crude oil. The captured CO2 is stored in a porous rock layer about 60 km away and more than 2 km below ground.
Quest started operating in 2015. At full capacity it can capture and store more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year – equivalent to the emissions from about 250,000 cars. Since its start-up, Quest has reduced CO2 emissions by 315 kilotonnes. The governments of Alberta and Canada have provided C$865 million to support the development of Quest.
Shell and our joint venture partners are freely sharing any data or intellectual property generated by the Quest project to help others advance CCS projects and demonstrate its value on an industrial scale.
Low-carbon energy investment
Over the past six years, we have invested about $1.1 billion in low-carbon R&D. We support the development and implementation of new energy technologies by investing in companies and technologies that are complementary to Shell’s existing business.
Through Shell Technology Ventures, we invest across the full scope of alternative energy: in production, we invested in GlassPoint solar technology; in energy distribution, we invested in Next Step Living, a company that helps homeowners improve energy efficiency and use more renewable energy; in energy storage, we invested in Aquion Energy, a company that produces saltwater ion batteries that can store solar power for use at night for industrial purposes.
Other areas of low-carbon investment include supporting the global Carbon XPRIZE in the area of carbon capture and use. In Canada, Shell and nine members of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance are funding an XPRIZE to foster ideas to find alternative uses for captured carbon dioxide.
As part of our low-carbon investment portfolio, we are also researching new transport solutions including hydrogen technologies, energy storage for electric vehicles and advanced biofuels.
Developing Advanced Biofuels
We continue to invest in new ways to produce biofuels from sustainable feedstocks such as waste and cellulosic biomass. Shell has three pilot plants at different stages of construction in the USA and India. The pilot plants will convert cellulosic biomass, which is non-food plants and waste, into a range of products, including petrol, diesel, aviation fuel and ethanol.
In addition, in 2015 Raízen opened its cellulosic ethanol plant at its Costa Pinto mill in Brazil. It is expected to produce 40 million litres a year of advanced biofuels from sugar-cane residues.
Visit our Sustainability Report online for more on how Shell’s activities are helping shape a more sustainable energy future.
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The 2015 Annual Report and Form 20-F, the 2015 Sustainability Report and the Investors' Handbook are available on our global website for online reading and PDF downloads.