7 November 1997

Shell puts $500m into renewables

MULTI-NATIONAL oil giant Shell has invested $500m for renewable energy resource research over the next five years.

That, and the addition of renewables as a core business – previously the preserve of oil, gas and coal – demonstrates how seriously the company views green energy sources, says the companys Frank van Oorsouw.

"We strongly believe that renewables will exist to a very significant extent in the next century, complimenting fossil fuels."

Biomass features strongly in the companys plans, alongside forestry and solar power. "Biomass will be a very large business. By 2020, we estimate it will be worth £90bn worldwide," says Mr Oorsouw.

Some 120,000ha (296,400 acres) – enough to cover the area of London inside the M25 – has already been planted in southern hemisphere countries. But Europe is set to benefit too.

"We are talking to a lot of people right now, so I cannot discuss the scale of investment. But we view the growing of fuel wood certainly as importantly as its conversion into electricity." UK growers could be supplying Shell with coppice fuel in the foreseeable future, he adds.

Renewable resources could challenge fossil fuels monopoly on power generation, thanks to a $500m investment by Shell over five years.