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Shell: Customers will drive the energy transition

Technology can empower end-users to determine their carbon emissions and influence the pace of climate change, says major

Two dominant energy industry themes—the move to cleaner energy and digitalisation—can be combined to “positively impact each other”, Shell CTO Yuri Sebregts told the annual meeting of energy technology heavyweight Baker Hughes in Florence on Tuesday. 

The transition has “begun and is driven by many factors, including economic growth, customer choice, emerging technologies and national policies”, says Sebregts. Digitalisation means that “companies are repositioning themselves to protect and grow their margins”. And, while the trends are “not intrinsically connected”, they “have the opportunity to impact each other positively”. 

As lower carbon solutions are often more expensive than high carbon ones, with the cost ultimately falling on consumers, Shell aims to provide end-users with the ability to make low-carbon choices. “We believe that how the energy transition plays out over the coming decades will depend a lot on the choices customers make,” says Sebregts. 

“The energy transition and digitalisation are two transformations that are redefining our industry” Sebregts

“The market—encouraged by the right government policies—will decide which cleaner energy solutions will thrive in the future. Customer choice will drive transformation at scale. Our approach is to provide our customers with a range of cleaner energy products and cleaner power—to give them choice and flexibility.” 

One example of this approach can be found in Shell offering the option, thus far in the UK and the Netherlands, to offset carbon emissions through “nature-based carbon credits”, essentially facilitating the planting or protecting trees. 

“This means that, for each litre of fuel customers buy, an equivalent amount of carbon credits is purchased to offset the emissions from the production, delivery and use of that fuel purchased,” says Sebregts. 

Other approaches to facilitate customers to more easily choose low-carbon options include Shell developing lubricants that are specifically designed for electronic or hybrid vehicles, to support customers in any move away from internal combustion engine vehicles. 

“The energy transition and digitalisation are two transformations that are redefining our industry,” says Sebregts. To stay “competitive and resilient”, Shell is responding to these two forces in three ways: “collaborating… building capability and giving our customers choice”. 

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