Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Shell to offer renewable power to customers in Texas

Now, there's a headline I never expected to see. 

In an illustration of just how far the Zeitgeist has changed, Shell Energy Solutions, part of oil giant Shell Plc, is getting into the residential power market in the US, specifically in the one state which is perhaps most closely identified with oil and gas industry, Texas. It will be providing 100% renewable electricity to "eligible customers" in Texas, as well as an electric vehicle charging plan, and a solar buyback plan under which customers can export excess solar power to the grid.

It brings home just how much European companies have moved towards the green economy compared to their North American counterparts. Companies like Shell, BP and Total have all embraced an expansion into renewable energy, electric vehicle charging and other fast-growing sustainable business areas, while North American companies like Exxon and Chevron continue in their well-worn oil-and-gas rut, with some grudging investment in carbon capture technology from industrial plants and biofuels.

Shell has a goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and plans to expand its retail electricity business to other parts of the United States in the coming months and years. Bear in mind, though, its investments in clean energy thus far pale into insignificance compared to its oil and gas operations. But at least it has got as far as talking the talk.

Texas apparently has the most competitive electricity market in the USA, and led the country in new renewable energy projects last year, installing 7,352 megawatts of  new wind and solar projects in 2021. However, it remains the tenth largest fossil fuel consumer in the county, and 90% of its energy is derived from fossil fuels. And Texas' toe-dipping in the renewables market is nothing to do with any revelatory epiphany or even a desire to do the right thing; they are investing in renewables because they are cheaper than the alternatives.

Which just goes to shown that perfectly truthful news headlines can give quite the wrong impression. But, even so, I'll take it!

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