From: Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive
To: All Shell employees
Date: 22 January 2008 Subject: Shell Energy Scenarios
In this letter, I’d like to share reflections about how we see the energy future, and our preferred route to meeting the world’s energy needs. Industry, governments and energy users – that is, all of us – will face the twin challenge of more energy and less CO2.
This letter is based on a text I’ve written for publication in several newspapers in the coming weeks. You can use it in your communications externally. There will be more information about energy scenarios inthe months ahead.
By the year 2100, the world’s energy system will be radically different from today’s. Renewable energy like solar, wind, hydroelectricity and biofuels will make up a large share of the energy mix, and nuclear energy too will have a place.
Mankind will have found ways of dealing with air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. New technologies will have reduced the amount of energy needed to power buildings and vehicles.
Indeed, the distant future looks bright, but getting there will be an adventure. At Shell, we think the world will take one of two possible routes. The first, a scenario we call Scramble, resembles a race through a mountainous desert. Like an off-road rally, it promises excitement and fierce competition. However, the unintended consequence of “more haste” will often be “less speed” and many will crash along the way.
The alternative scenario, called Blueprints, has some false starts and develops like a cautious ride on a road that is still under construction. Whether we arrive safely at our destination depends on the discipline of the drivers and the ingenuity of all those involved in the construction effort. Technical innovation provides for excitement.
Regardless of which route we choose, the world’s current predicament limits our maneuvering room. We are experiencing a step-change in the growth rate of energy demand due to population growth and economic development, and Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.
As a result, society has no choice but to add other sources of energy – renewables , yes, but also more nuclear power and unconventional fossil fuels such as oil sands. Using more energy inevitably means emitting more CO2 at a time when climate change has become a critical global issue.
In the Scramble scenario, nations rush to secure energy resources for themselves, fearing that energy security is a zero-sum game, with clear winners and losers. The use of local coal and homegrown biofuels increases fast.
Taking the path of least resistance, policymakers pay little attention to curbing energy consumption – until supplies run short. Likewise, despite much rhetoric, greenhouse gas emissions are not seriously addressed until major shocks trigger political reactions. Since these responses are overdue, they are severe and lead to energy price spikes and volatility.
The other route to the future is less painful, even if the start is more disorderly. This Blueprints scenario sees numerous coalitions emerging to take on the challenges of economic development, energy security and environmental pollution through cross-border cooperation.
Much innovation occurs at the local level, as major cities develop links with industry to reduce local emissions. National governments introduce efficiency standards, taxes and other policy instruments to improve the environmental performance of buildings, vehicles and transport fuels.
As calls for harmonization increase, policies converge across the globe. Cap-and-trade mechanisms that put a cost on industrial CO 2 emissions gain international acceptance. Rising CO2 prices accelerate innovation, spawning breakthroughs. A growing number of cars are powered by electricity and hydrogen, while industrial facilities are fitted with technology to capture CO 2 and store it underground.
Against the backdrop of these two equally plausible scenarios, we will only know in a few years whether December’s Bali declaration on climate change was just rhetoric or the beginning of a global effort to counter it. Much will depend on how attitudes evolve in Beijing, Brussels, New Delhi and Washington.
Shell traditionally uses its scenarios to prepare for the future without expressing a preference for one over another. But, faced with the need to manage climate risk for our investors and our grandchildren, we believe the Blueprints outcomes provide the best balance between economy, energy and environment.
For a second opinion, we appealed to climate change calculations made at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These calculations indicate that a Blueprints world with CO2 capture and storage results in the least amount of climate change, provided emissions of other major manmade greenhouse gases are similarly reduced.
The sobering reality is that the Blueprints scenario will only come to pass if policymakers agree a global approach to emissions trading and actively promote energy efficiency and new technology in four sectors: heat and power generation, industry, mobility and buildings. It will be hard work and there is little time.
For instance, Blueprints assumes CO2 is captured at 90% of all coal- and gas-fired power plants in developed countries in 2050, plus at least 50% of those in non-OECD countries. Today, there are none. Since CO2 capture and storage adds cost and brings no revenues , government support is needed to make it happen quickly on a scale large enough to affect global emissions. At the very least, companies should earn carbon credits for the CO2 they capture and store.
Blueprints will not be easy. But it offers the world the best chance of reaching a sustainable energy future unscathed, so we should explore this route with the same ingenuity and persistence that put humans on the moon and created the digital age.
The world faces a long voyage before it reaches a low-carbon energy system. Companies can suggest possible routes to get there, but governments are in the driving seat. And governments will determine whether we should prepare for a bitter competition or a true team effort.
That is the article, and how I see our challenges and opportunities. I look forward to hearing how you see the situation (please be concise).
Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive
4 thoughts on “Letter from Shell CEO”
Dear Mr Van der Veer
Thank you for sharing your vision of the energy future, and your preferred route to meeting the world’s energy needs.
I note your view that renewable energy, including solar, will have a substantial role to play in the future energy mix.
It is therefore puzzling to read quotes such as this one below:
“The global oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, in turn, appears to be slowly exiting the solar energy business. It had earlier sold off its solar units in US, Germany, South Africa and Singapore to Germany’s SolarWorld AG. Shell now has solar operations only in the Philippines, China and Indonesia.”
Is there no blueprint including solar energy in Shell’s future?
This is all about control. Who will control the “new” energy and its technology. Now that the price of oil has opened wide the viablility of so many new energy options big oil is getting worried about their ability to maintain control of this market. Will there be new Microsoft(s) of energy evolve or will the existing oil giants be able to maintain control? Hum who is in the best position to influence govenment regarding energy policy the exiting oil gaints or the new energy startups? I think Shell realizes to continue to control this market it will cost less to buy the politians than to buy out all the new energy startups. Also buying out new energy startups is a hit an miss game they would rather not have to play and risk being the IBM of energy 10 years from now.
I just recently attended the International ENergy Week in Singapore (November 3-7) held at the Raffles City Convention Centre’s Stamford Ballroom as organized by the Energy Market Authority and Energy Studies Institute & Bang’s Public Relations.Major issues on biofuel since it competes for agricultural lands and significant requirement for water consumption(pls note that water uses a lot of energy too for both desalination, filtration, distribution, etc.. Thus, our company, Energy Source Consulting with various partners from all over the world is bringing in the technology to increase yield and efficiency of existing Jathropa and other agricultural stock used for biodiesel. Hope we can help individuals, corporations and the Philippine gov’t. Furthermore, we provide advanced technologies on biofuel production like cellulose tech & other complementary technologies like wind tech, hydro, hydrogen,biomass, etc.–www.energysourceconsulting.com
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Our principal organisation, Callidus has combustion equipment and systems worth hundreds of millions working successfully worldwide. Many of these systems have been custom designed with the customer to meet stringent emission regulations throughout the world.
For over seventeen years, we have been a leader in major technology for flares, vapor combustion, vapor recovery, thermal oxidizers, process heater burners for refining, petro-chemical, chemical and pharmaceutical industries focusing on the destruction and/or reduction of air pollutants. Our Principal organization, Callidus is known for providing first-class products and services to customers around the world.
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