The global energy system is changing. In the future, a planet with more people and rising living standards will need more energy. But the world must also find ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, improve air quality and tackle climate change.
One way to achieve this is by changing the way that electricity is generated. Electricity – the presence and flow of electric charge – allows us to turn on lights, charge our phones and access the Internet.
Electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar, together with electricity produced by gas-fired power stations, can ensure a secure and stable supply while also reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Building on experience
Shell's activities in the electricity sector cover many countries. For example, Shell Energy North America manages more than 10,000 megawatts of power generation capacity. One-third of this comes from renewable sources.
Shell Energy North America increased the amount of electricity it supplies to customers by acquiring MP2 Energy. This company focuses on supplying electricity to commercial and industrial customers such as schools, hospitals, offices and factories in the USA.
Our Shell Energy business for households in Great Britain supplies 100% renewable electricity to all our customers, as well as gas and smart home technology designed to make our customers' homes more energy efficient and convenient to run.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that renewable energy will meet almost 30% of power demand by 2023.
Shell's investments in the Borssele III/IV offshore wind farm project in the Netherlands and wind power in the USA, along with US solar firm Silicon Ranch and Cleantech Solar in Singapore, have increased Shell's involvement in renewable power.
Read more about what Shell New Energies business is doing in wind and solar.
Electric vehicles and charging
There are currently around 1 billion cars on the road. Powering more of these with electricity will be vital for tackling CO2 emissions and reducing urban air pollution.
Shell is focused on reducing emissions and improving air quality by expanding into new areas such as electric-vehicle (EV) charging.
There are currently about 3 million EVs on the roads. By 2040, the IEA projects that this could rise to 280 million. Effective recharging systems will be vital to ensure drivers can charge without disrupting their own journeys or stressing the broader power grid.
Shell is working to meet the charging needs of EV drivers – at home, at work or on the road.
Shell signed a deal in 2017 with IONITY, an operator of high-powered vehicle charging networks. The agreement will see the provision of 500 charging points across 10 European countries by 2020, starting with 80 of the biggest Shell motorway stations.
The following year, Shell acquired NewMotion, a Dutch company with Europe's largest network of charging points.
We have also bought Greenlots, a California-based provider of EV charging points, charging network software and grid services across the USA. Greenlots has a growing business in Canada, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
The falling costs of renewable power, combined with advances in digital technology, are leading to an increase in distributed energy systems. Unlike a central grid, these systems generate and store electricity close to the customer.
Customers, big and small, have started to generate their own electricity through solar panels or wind turbines, store it and distribute it into the grid. Shell has identified commercial opportunities in the changing ways electricity is generated, supplied and consumed.
In 2018, Shell acquired a majority interest in GI Energy, a US company focusing on the integration of distributed energy resources.
GI Energy builds microgrids and onsite systems for commercial and industrial customers. In 2019, Shell bought German company sonnen, which provides battery storage systems to homes with solar panels.
Shell has also bought the UK digital platform Limejump. It manages independent commercial assets remotely, helping firms that generate electricity – including via wind turbines and solar panels – or operate batteries to optimise their sales of electricity to the grid.
Distributed energy systems can also help deliver electricity to those who currently have unreliable access, or none at all. That is why Shell is developing commercial ways to provide a reliable electricity supply to more customers.