How are Shell Scenarios used?

The sheer breadth and depth of perspective gained from our scenarios continues to inspire many successful partnerships and initiatives around the world, on individual country levels as well as regional and global.

We have been developing Scenarios within Shell for almost 50 years. They are plausible and challenging descriptions of the future landscape. They stretch our thinking and help us to make crucial choices in times of uncertainty and transitions as we grapple with tough energy and environmental issues. 

Shell Scenarios in action

Here are just some of the projects that the Shell Scenarios team has been involved with recently.


Traffic jam

Developing natural gas in China

The Scenarios team has produced a joint study with the Development Research Centre (DRC) of China’s State Council to examine how natural gas could evolve as a mainstream energy source in China. 

Natural gas is the ideal alternative to coal, as it is cleaner, more efficient and easier to transport and store. But although its use globally has grown rapidly over the last decade or two, gas has significant challenges to overcome before it can become a core component of China’s energy system.

The Shell-DRC study sets out a strategic aim to increase the share of gas in the energy mix to 10% in 2020 and 15% in 2030, up from 5.8% in 2014. This reflects the goals set out in China's Twelfth Five Year Plan and the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Markets alone will not be able to deliver this increase in the share of gas, and additional policy frameworks and incentives will be required.  Based on detailed economic modelling, the joint study has put forward recommendations for strengthening environmental regulations including effective carbon pricing. The study also recommends comprehensive reform of gas market mechanisms, regulations, and institutions, including greater competition in upstream gas exploration and production, diversifying sources of imported gas to drive greater competition in wholesale and retail gas markets, and effective regulation of gas transmission and distribution infrastructure to ensure third party access on competitive terms. 

The study was a key input into China’s Thirteenth Five Year Plan.

China’s Gas Development Strategies (PDF, 16 MB)


Natural sunlight

Exploring Germany’s energy pathways

Shell has long recognised the importance of the global climate challenge. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, which set out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C, the hard work is underway as countries develop and evolve their roadmaps to build secure, affordable and sustainable energy systems.

The main focus was first to understand how Germany’s specific energy scenarios could evolve and then to understand the challenges and opportunities. The greatest progress so far in this highly industrialised economy has been in power generation, and is now increasingly focused on mobility and heating.

After identifying the biggest potential drivers of cross-sector energy transformation, a joint Shell Scenarios and local Germany team effort with contributions from external experts developed two possible energy transition scenarios: 'Winning the Marathon’ and 'Slowing Momentum’. 

These scenarios look at how Germany's future energy pathways could evolve in response to societal, economic, political and technological change. They are designed to help German society and government explore all the implications and support key energy decisions in the coming years.

Shell Energy Scenarios Germany brochure


Hands of children with water

Improving responses to AIDS (2005)

Our scenarios work is also useful for advising public bodies, institutions and governments across a range of sectors, as it draws together expertise from a number of disciplines. This is also true of community health, mainly in developing countries.

In Africa, drawing on experience gained through our operations in sub-Saharan African countries, where HIV/AIDS is a major health concern, we worked with UNAIDS to develop scenarios for ways in which the disease could spread in future. 

While the number of new cases of HIV/AIDS may be falling,1.8 million people were newly infected in this region in 2009 alone. The United Nations drew on Shell’s approach to scenarios to devise three versions of the future that explored the consequences of different government actions. 

These scenarios helped to guide the leaders’ response to the epidemic and to work out which response to the crisis would create the best outcome for Africa and the rest of the world by 2025. This work also helped the UN and other bodies to identify the actions required to respond appropriately to different circumstances.

Aids in Africa: Three scenarios to 2025

More in Scenarios

Global Supply Model

Find out how the Scenarios team explores future oil and gas production potential to 2100.

World Energy Model

Find out how the World Energy Model can explore different plausible future energy scenarios all the way to the year 2100.