Not one solution, but many
May 8, 2019
John Abbott, Downstream Director of Royal Dutch Shell plc. speaking at the BP/CharIN hosted Powering the Charge event in London on May 8 2019.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you. I am delighted to be here. And I am honoured to be invited… it is not often I give a speech at a BP event.
But the fact that I have been invited reflects something of the spirit that the world needs right now.
In a period of profound change, we must all make time to listen, learn and understand.
And while we bring out the best in each other by competing… we have to work together too. And not just across industry, but across society, government and countries. Because as the world is changing, we must change.
Indeed, here we are, two large companies, with a big history in oil and gas, friends – and rivals, engaging with the brightest talents to discuss… electricity. And we must keep an open mind. Because when it comes to the future of transport, there is not one solution… but many.
And when I say this, I am reminded of a phrase of Winston Churchill’s. He talked of progress as “an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path”. And it certainly is. As an industry, we have to be broad in our approach.
For my part, from an early age, I was interested in astronomy, the planets… the configuration of things. And if I was not staring at the sky, I was building things here, on earth. Bicycles, engines, model planes. Then I would rebuild them. Then try again. They fascinated me – and I was on a constant quest to improve them.
Back then, I was working alone, with improvised tools and limited expertise. Today, as I look out at a room full of experts, I can tell you that the feeling of anticipation is exactly the same. We have the opportunity to play our part in shaping the transport system of tomorrow. And how will we do it? Not with one solution, but many.
For Shell, the customer is the key to what we do now – and what we do tomorrow. Of course, any smart business, large or small, prizes its customers. But the point is that as an oil and gas company, we have a history of starting with commodities and ending by supplying them to the customer. Now, we begin where we used to end. With the customer.
In a time of change – of significant transformation – the customer is the one with the choice. And our customers are becoming more and more varied. Their behaviour is diversifying. Social, economic and technological change is happening at different paces, in different places at different times. The question is: what does the customer want – and what do they need?
Whenever I attend events about the future of transport, I delight in the sheer variety of what is discussed. Indeed, it was very interesting to hear from you Tufan, Claas and Jesse earlier on. And when someone asks me, “what will get us from A to B tomorrow?”, my answer remains: not one solution, but many. Shell, along with everyone else, has to be versatile.
Just think of the options customers have today.
For the individual, it is so many things… from electric scooters to hydrogen fuel-cell cars and the first autonomous buses. And for goods, it is smart fleets operating in cities, hydrogen cargo ships or planes powered by biofuels.
And it is the customer who will decide which is best, when and where.
Let me give you a snapshot of our insights, gathered in Britain last year.
- According to independent research conducted for Shell, two-thirds of the British public expect the way they get around cities to be different in 10 years’ time.
- In an age range of 16 to 75 year-olds, 72% of people were prepared to alter their behaviour to tackle the effects of climate change.
- And among 16-34 year-olds, cars using alternative fuels were at least as appealing as those running on petrol or diesel. Hybrid or fully electric cars were most appealing of all1.
The results show shifts in attitude happening, which will be no surprise to anyone here. But if there are shifts, there is no one, stand-out conclusion. Indeed, when it comes to electric vehicles, customers face a confusing set of options.
It is not just which type of vehicle to go for and whether they should own it, hire it or share it.
Do they charge at home, at work or on the go? Which system do they use? And have they remembered the stack of cards they need to recharge their vehicles?
As we have heard from Tufan, BP is doing some excellent work on this.
Indeed, BPChargemaster and PodPoint play a significant role the UK market in charge points.
CharIN too, is making great strides in research and development.
For Shell’s part, when it comes to EVs, we aim to give customers choice… simplicity… and value.
Not one solution, but many.
So, what is Shell doing?
When it comes to fast charging, Shell Recharge is our own rapid-charging service. Most of our chargers are 50KW. This allows most drivers to charge their cars in as little as half an hour. Where possible, we will introduce faster 150KW chargers. We now have 29 sites across the UK. We also have six in the Netherlands and last month, we announced that we would invest in a further 200 charge points there.
We are also installing super-fast charge points of up to 350KW throughout Europe with the operator IONITY. And it is a great example of partnership. Through IONITY, we are working with BMW, Daimler, Ford and the Volkswagen group, with Audi and Porsche. The charge points will take up to ten minutes to charge the next-generation EVs and we are installing 500 points in our forecourts across 10 countries.
There is a final investment I want to tell you about. Well… at least when it comes to Shell’s EV charging activities in Europe.
That is our acquisition of NewMotion. To give you the numbers, that means more than 45,000 private points for homes and businesses – and access to a network of 100,000 points in public sites in 28 countries.
Together, these three examples – Shell Recharge, IONITY and NewMotion – give customers the choice of different charging locations, simple access and the value that comes with being part of a large network.
For Shell, it is vital to work across industry to develop common standards for EV technology. One of the reasons we signed up to CharIN is its collaborative approach. It is another great example of the type of partnerships needed across industry to make change.
At Shell, we want to work with everyone from car makers to policy makers, on everything from infrastructure… to integration… to interoperability. Customers tell us that they want to be able to move between systems. They want to be able to charge at any point – and pay for it without problem. We are listening, learning and understanding. And I will gladly say, we do not know every solution yet, but we are working on it.
Churchill was right. It is “an ever-improving path”.
For Shell, the most important point about working on many solutions, is how we bring everything together. For instance, there is another choice customers can make. They can choose where the electricity they use comes from. Does it come from a renewable source or not? Shell Recharge already uses 100% renewable electricity at its forecourts in the UK. But what if a customer is charging at home?
Last year, we purchased First Utility, or Shell Energy as it is now called. This was a big step for us. We are now supplying residential customers in the UK for the first time – and we are supplying them with 100% renewable electricity.
So… if a Shell Energy customer uses NewMotion smart charging, then that is simpler, better value and it gives them the choice of renewable electricity. Ask a driver, and they will tell you that their impact on the environment matters to them. In March, another study of 4,000 people in Europe found that 66% of drivers want to reduce their carbon footprint, but do not know how2.
This is one solution. But we need more. I know that everyone here is thinking about the whole transport system. And just as I have seen policy across the world growing broader… New technology coming from the most unexpected quarters… and customers changing their behaviour. So Shell, and BP, and others… are investing, developing and innovating in a multitude of ways.
For Shell, this includes hydrogen as a fuel with its potential for heavy freight, including rail… Liquefied natural gas – or LNG – as an alternative for trucking and shipping… Biofuels that could one day help the aviation sector… and digitalisation, which makes not only transport systems, but vehicles – and their drivers, more efficient.
To give you a few quick examples… When it comes to hydrogen, we are part of a joint venture to establish a network of filling stations across Germany. There are now 24 stations open at Shell forecourts. We also have hydrogen stations in the UK, Canada and California – where we are also developing three stations with our partners for the new heavy-duty hydrogen trucks.
As for LNG… For trucks, we have advanced plans to build a network of 39 stations across Europe. And for shipping, we have signed deals to supply the world’s first LNG-powered oil tankers and cruise ships.
And, of course, we continue to work with others to improve today’s engines.
Indeed, to return to electric vehicles, we are working on more than just charging. We are working on fluids designed specifically for EVs. Fluids that could help to make the vehicles more efficient. That could extend their range and improve their performance. Together with car manufacturers across the world, including Geely in China and Mahindra in India, we are developing transmission fluids, process oils, coolants and greases. We call them E-Fluids.
And finally, if we keep in mind Churchill’s “ever-improving path”, then that is something we are working on quite literally.
In March, we launched a bitumen product we have been developing at our technology centre in Bangalore, India. It is engineered to reduce the emissions that affect air quality when a road surface is laid. And because it acts on odour-releasing molecules, it reduces smells too.
From electric vehicles, to hydrogen, to better-smelling bitumen… Shell has many interlinked projects. Many opportunities. And many more to come.
It may dwarf the challenge of building a model plane… but the future of transport is one that motivates me every day. Just as I can see that it motivates you.
And I look forward to working with you all on this…
Because when it comes to the future of transport, I think we can all agree that finding one solution is excellent… but finding many is better.
1 According to an Ipsos Mori survey of 2,176 British adults aged 16-75 on 19-24 January 2018.
2 According to an Edelman Intelligence survey of 4,000 European adults aged 18+ in the UK, Germany, France and Netherlands in March 2019.
MORE IN MEDIA
Mar 22, 2019
An article posted on LinkedIn by John Abbott, Downstream Director of Royal Dutch Shell plc., on March 22 2019
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