Shell Global Executive Istvan Kapitany 'Why energy disruption presents opportunities'

Article by Istvan Kapitany, Global Executive Vice President, Shell

I was recently in Canada taking part in an event called Energy Disruptors Unite. You might wonder why Shell - traditionally an oil and gas company - would choose to participate in an event focused on ‘energy disruption’.

Our retail branded sites serve 30 million customers every day. This gives us unparalleled insights into customer needs in a rapidly changing world. Our customers, in close to 80 countries, are expecting more and cleaner energy solutions.

The retail landscape is evolving fast as a result of technological disruptions and the continuing appearance of new market entrants. We are preparing to thrive in tomorrow’s world. Throughout my time in Canada, I spoke with a variety of people about the common goal of accelerating pragmatic and profitable solutions to the world’s biggest energy challenges.

I left further convinced that to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, business, government and civil society must work together. For a global business like ours, this means enabling the introduction of new lower-carbon fuels.

Key for Shell is working to ensure we are listening to customers’ needs and then delivering appropriate solutions. So, as different countries shift towards lower carbon fuelling choices, we aim to introduce new solutions to enable these markets for new fuels to grow and thrive.

These will be introduced at different paces in different places around the world. The speed will depend on local factors, including the availability of infrastructure and demand from customers.

As the transition to a lower-carbon energy system continues, we will see the adoption of a mosaic of new fuelling options, from battery electric vehicle charging and next-generation biofuels, to liquefied natural gas and hydrogen.

Take Canada as an example. Aligned with our approach to balance supply and demand for new fuels, in 2018, Shell opened Canada’s first public hydrogen refuelling station in Vancouver in partnership with Hydrogen Technology and Energy Corporation. A second station is planned to open soon.

Shell also expects customers to want more sustainable biofuels. Through a partnership with Iogen Energy and with the support of Codexis, we developed the Iogen cellulosic ethanol production process in Canada. This technology is now funded by Raízen (a joint venture between Shell and Cosan) and is deployed at its cellulosic ethanol plant in Brazil.

Additionally, Shell is gearing up to support customers looking for electric vehicle re-charging options. Greenlots, a company acquired by Shell earlier this year, provides electric vehicle (EV) charging points, charging network software and grid services across the USA and Canada (with sites in Ontario and British Columbia). It also has a growing business in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

As demand grows in Canada we would aim to expand our offering. We already offer EV charging at over 200 Shell sites globally, with our on-forecourt EV charging service Shell Recharge available in some 52 sites across the UK, the Netherlands, Singapore and China. Together with IONITY, a consortium of automotive manufacturers, we are also installing 500 ultra-fast charging posts at Shell stations across 10 European countries.

The scale of the evolving energy system means the world will still need oil and gas for years to come. Meanwhile, the climate challenge is driving a transition to lower-carbon energy that will change the global energy mix.

For well over a century, Shell has played a part in the essential journeys people make every day – to work, to school or to see family and friends. To succeed, Shell must deliver what customers need, not only now but in the future.

This means providing more efficient fuels and lubricants, and lower-carbon alternatives. It means taking advantage of opportunities in areas like digital technology and recognising that regulations are evolving quickly. This is why Shell sees disruption in the energy industry as a key opportunity to ensure we continue to thrive through the energy transition and offer choices to customers.