Royal Dutch Shell is falling far short on its green energy investment plans, with an estimated US$2 billion allocated so far and just a year to go to meet its $4- to $6-billion goal for the period from 2016 through 2020.
The colossal fossil has put money into building a low-carbon energy and electricity business since setting up its new energies division in 2016, The Guardian reports, but its own guidance documents say it should have spent at least $3 billion by the end of 2019. “In the same four years the company spent more than $120 billion developing fossil fuel projects and set out plans to increase its total spending to $30 billion a year in the early 2020s,” the paper notes.
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The Guardian says Shell’s spending on “green” energy options like biofuels, hydrogen, and renewable electricity amounts to one-tenth of its total new investment. Analysis last year put the proportion at 5%.
Either way, those totals position Shell as an energy transition leader in the global fossil industry, The Guardian says. “Data from Rystad Energy, a Norwegian consultancy, shows that Europe’s five largest oil companies—Shell, BP, Total, Eni, and Equinor—together spent a total of $5.5 billion on renewable energy projects to date, compared with a combined total budget of almost $90 billion last year alone.”
In October, a defiant Shell CEO Ben van Beurden claimed his company had “no choice” but to continue amping up its oil and gas investment, adding that “despite what a lot of activists say, it is entirely legitimate to invest in oil and gas because the world demands it”.
Oil Change International Executive Director Steve Kretzmann said fossil executives “trumpet their relatively tiny investments in renewables” but continue to “pour more fuel on the fire of global warming every day”. And they “definitely do not get the part about the need for them to make less of the thing that is driving climate disaster,” he told The Guardian. “The big problem isn’t too little investment in renewables—it’s too much investment in, and government support for, fossil fuels.”
The Guardian notes Shell missed out on an opportunity to expand its renewable energy portfolio when it was outbid by Mitsubishi for the multi-billion-dollar purchase of Eneco, a Dutch utility with a large renewable energy portfolio.
“The deal might have pushed Shell’s green investment towards its planned spending range,” the UK-based paper says. “Shell said it was disappointed it lost the bid, and said that it would continue to invest [in] growing gas and electricity generation from renewable sources.”