Politicians may be talking about a “Green New Deal”, and how environmental technologies will kick-start the economy out its current crisis, but one of the world’s largest oil companies does not agree.
In a hugely important decision, which will have serious ramifications for both the company and wider energy debate, Shell has said that it will no longer invest in renewable technologies such as wind, solar and hydro power because they are not economic.
Windfarms may have featured prominently in the company’s adverts until recently, but Shell will no longer be investing in the technology.
Controversially the company plans to invest more in biofuels and trying to “green” fossil fuels through CCS – carbon, capture and storage. It hopes to use the unproven technology to somehow reduce the CO2 emissions from its investments in Canada’s dirty tar sands.
Shell’s top executives at the company’s annual strategy presentation said Shell, which is currently the world’s largest buyer of crop-based biofuels, would develop a new generation of non-food based fuels which are considered to be less harmful to the environment.
In a damning indictment of what the oil giant thinks of current renewable technologies, Shell argues that they did not offer attractive investment opportunities. Linda Cook, Shell’s executive director of gas and power, said: “If there aren’t investment opportunities which compete with other projects we won’t put money into it. We are businessmen and women. If there were renewables [which made money] we would put money into it.”
Shell said biofuels fitted its core business of providing fuels, logistics, trading and branding. Cook added: “It’s now looking like bio¬fuels is one which is closest to what we do in Shell. Wind and solar are interesting [but] we may continue to struggle with other investment opportunities in the portfolio even with big subsidies in many markets. We do not expect material investment [in wind and solar] going forward.”
I think someone should tell Shell they have backed the wrong horse…