Shell commits to alternative energy

LAST month, Royal Dutch Shell announced an update of its activities in the alternative energy sector, including an explanation of its decision to sell its PV solar business to German company SolarWorld.
Shell commits to alternative energy Shell commits to alternative energy Shell commits to alternative energy Shell commits to alternative energy Shell commits to alternative energy

According to Shell, it has invested over $US1 billion into alternative energy resources, including biofuels, wind, solar and hydrogen. The company said its investments make it one of the world's leading companies in the alternative energy sector.

"In Shell, we aim to develop at least one alternative energy such as wind, hydrogen or advanced solar technology into a substantial business," said Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer.

"In addition, we continue our efforts to further expand our position as the largest marketer of biofuels."

Shell's partnership with Iogen is expected to significantly advance the development of cellulosic biofuels, derived from non-edible agricultural waste. By producing biofuels from plant waste instead of food crops, Shell hopes to alleviate the potential stress on the food chain currently said to be an obstacle to greater biofuels development.

The partnership with Iogen is said to complement Shell's work with Germany's CHOREN Industries, the developers of a patented biomass-gasification process that converts biomass – such as woodchips – into ultra-clean synthetic gas that can then be converted for use in diesel through Shell's Gas-to-Liquids technology.

CHOREN is preparing construction for the world's first commercial biomass-to-liquids facility in Freiberg, Germany.

Shell said wind energy is among the most promising of its renewable assets, with an installed base of more than 350 megawatts, expected to reach approximately 500MW in 2007.

Included in this growth is the first Dutch offshore wind project, the 108MW Offshore Windpark Egmond aan Zee, in which it holds a 50% stake. Full construction begins this month, and first electricity production is expected around the end of the year.

Shell also holds a 33.3% stake in the London Array offshore project in the UK, with a potential capacity of 1000MW, making it one of the world's largest planned wind farms.

In the United States, Shell is already one of the largest wind energy developers, with more projects planned for Texas, Wyoming, Idaho, West Virginia, California and Hawaii.

Shell recently acquired 50% of the development rights to Mount Storm, a 300MW wind park in West Virginia – potentially one of the largest new projects in the US. Progress has also been made in permitting the 200MW Cotterel Mountain wind project in Idaho, in which Shell holds a 50% stake.

Shell announced a memorandum of understanding in early February outlining plans to explore the potential for wind energy developments in China, in partnership with Guohua Energy Investment Corporation of the China Shenhua Group, a leading national energy supplier.

In the area of solar energy, Shell has been progressing the next generation of technologies, including CIS "thin-film" technology, thus removing its solar program from the risks imposed by the global shortage in silicon supplies.

Shell said it believes non-silicon based technologies such as CIS are more likely to become competitive with retail electricity in the near-term years.

The technology recently achieved a 13.5% world record efficiency for thin-film products, and is supported by International Electrotechnical Commission certification.

Shell has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saint-Gobain, a world-leading producer of glass and other building materials, to further explore the Shell CIS technology and consider joint development.

Shell said Saint-Gobain's expertise in glass processing and building materials manufacturing provides an excellent fit for joint exploration of this technology.

The company said the decision to sell its global crystalline silicon solar business to SolarWorld was made on the basis of its commitment to thin film technologies.

Shell said it would continue to provide solar energy to the developing world, and has signed a letter of intent with Good Energies Investments with a view to further expanding the business.

The oil company also continues to pursue its hydrogen program, with plans to open at least two new "hydrogen stations" in the United States this year in support of continued efforts to demonstrate the viability of a future hydrogen economy.

Shell is also pursuing hydrogen initiatives in Asia, supporting the recently announced hydrogen station at Tongji University in Shanghai.

Shell Hydrogen continues to play an important role in joint government/industry discussions and partnerships to plan and develop hydrogen and fuel cell activities, including the EU Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Technology Platform, the California Fuel Cell Partnership and the Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project.

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