Shell, the oil giant, will sell renewable energy to Texans

HOUSTON — Shell said on Tuesday it will begin selling electricity generated from renewable sources to residents and businesses in Texas,...


HOUSTON — Shell said on Tuesday it will begin selling electricity generated from renewable sources to residents and businesses in Texas, a move that brings the European oil company’s shift to green power in the U.S. market .

The announcement underscores a growing divide between European and US oil company strategies as elected leaders and consumers demand the energy industry do more to tackle climate change. European companies such as Shell, BP and TotalEnergies are looking to expand into renewable energy, electric vehicle charging and other fast-growing businesses, while US companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron are mainly focused on oil and gas. gas while investing in carbon capture from industrial plants and biofuels.

Shell, which already owns electricity companies in nine countries, plans to double the amount of electricity it sells by 2030. The London-based company is Europe’s largest oil and gas company in terms of turnover and is present in more than 70 countries, including service stations, refineries and oil and gas fields.

The company said it aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. While many companies have the same goal, Exxon and Chevron have not set such ambitious climate goals.

Shell executives said its new energy business in Texas would give customers better access to wind and solar power that is increasingly abundant in the state. It will also offer electric vehicle drivers free charging at night, when electricity demand is low, and on weekends.

“Our goal is to reduce our carbon intensity,” said Glenn Wright, vice president of renewable energy and energy solutions for Shell in the Americas. “We need to take concrete action, especially in this space, where we can engage customers with renewable and cleaner energy solutions.”

Shell said it will eventually expand its electricity retail business to other parts of the United States, including the eastern and southern states that are part of the PJM energy market, the largest regional transmission system in the country. The company said starting in Texas made sense because more than 26 million of the state’s roughly 29 million people were served by a single grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

About a dozen states — including many in the northeast — and the District of Columbia have competitive retail electricity markets. However relatively few people have taken advantage of competitive marketsthe Department of Energy has found that a large majority of industrial and commercial customers have abandoned the utility in place in their area.

Texas and New Jersey benefited the most from lower prices in competitive retail markets. Texas has the most competitive electricity market in the country, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Many individuals and businesses that look to competitive markets tend to choose businesses that offer renewable energy such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. Big tech companies that run power-hungry data centers have led the push for green power.

Other major European oil companies have also sought to expand into the power sector. France’s TotalEnergies announced last month that it was buying a 50% stake in Clearway Energy, a US wind and solar energy company, for $2.4 billion.

“It’s a big and serious decision, but it’s also no surprise,” Michael Webber, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, said of Shell’s plans. “They can see the future as well as anyone, and they are not in climate change denial.”

Shell’s investments in clean energy are small compared to the company’s oil and gas operations, but executives said they plan to use some of its fossil fuel profits to create new businesses taking into account account of climate change.

Shell hopes to attract customers by offering incentives. Solar panel owners will be credited the retail electricity rate for the excess electricity they send to the grid that residents pay for electricity. In Texas, compensation for the power that consumers send to the grid varies. Some utilities offer consumers lower wholesale prices, while others offer the higher retail rate that Shell promises.

“It’s a huge opportunity for growth, and there’s going to be competition between pivoting oil companies like Shell and tech companies like Tesla, Google and Apple,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, managing director of the Climate Policy Lab at the Tufts. Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. “The irony is that it should come from existing utilities, but generally speaking they have been very resistant.”

Consumers who buy electricity from Shell will receive fixed prices for the duration of their contract – as little as six months or as long as five years. The company will purchase the energy it sells to its customers from wind and solar facilities in Texas.

Shell’s shift includes increased investment in renewables, power trading and electric vehicle charging stations. In recent years, Shell has acquired a power company in India that provides solar and wind power, bought a wind farm developer in Australia and invested in a partnership with a Chinese company to develop charging stations in Asia and Europe. In Germany, it acquired a battery supplier that develops its own power grids in competition with established utilities. In the United States, it builds hydrogen fueling stations, owns wind farms and bought an energy trading company that sells electricity to businesses.

Despite its investments in renewable energy, some critics have argued that Shell is not moving fast enough. In a case brought by an environmental group, a Dutch court last year ordered the company, formerly known as Royal Dutch Shell, to drastically cut emissions to offset its role in climate change.

Shell said it would appeal the decision and takes climate change seriously. The company has pledged to cut oil production and halve its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Last year it sold its oil fields in the Permian Basin straddling Texas and the New Mexico for $9.5 billion, most of which was paid out to shareholders in dividends and share buybacks.

According to an annual report sustainability report. Shell’s carbon intensity increased in 2021 after a sharp decline in 2020 when the pandemic caused demand for fossil fuels to plummet.

Mr Wright, the Shell executive, said the company aims to become a more diversified energy company. “We are an energy company,” he said. “So we are not leaving oil and gas, but changing the composition of the portfolio.”

Clifford Krauss reported from Houston and Ivan Penn from New York.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Shell, the oil giant, will sell renewable energy to Texans
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