Shell to power Philippines refinery with solar, storage and natural gas

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As Extinction Rebellion protesters start to have an impact around the world, fossil fuel giant Royal Dutch Shell has said it is heeding the call from civil society to work towards the low-emission aims enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

Shell’s Philippine subsidiary Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation has touted the start of work on an integrated energy system to harness solar energy, natural gas and a 3 MWh battery storage system to power its 110,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery in Tabangao, Batangas City.

The partly renewable energy project is expected to generate 2.4 GWh per year, enough to power 850 homes or offset 8,760 tons of carbon dioxide per year from refinery operations, according to Pilipinas Shell. Any excess energy will be exported to the adjacent Luzon grid.

Pilipinas Shell and the oil major’s renewable energy spin-off Royal Dutch Shell New Energies worked “to showcase Shell’s aspiration to thrive in the energy transition and at the same time demonstrate opportunities to unlock value between conventional and new energy systems,” said Cesar Romero, Pilipinas Shell president and chairman of Shell companies in the Philippines.

Shell makes the top 20

Work on the solar farm is likely to start next month and installation of the battery storage system will start in the second quarter of next year.

Pilipinas Shell has already fitted solar systems to 39 of its retail petrol stations and its oil giant parent wants to reduce the carbon intensity of its operations by 20% by 2035, and halve them by 2050, in line with global climate protection ambitions.

Against that backdrop, research body the Climate Accountability Institute has published a report naming and shaming the 20 most significant contributors of carbon emissions between 1965 and 2017.

Royal Dutch Shell features predominantly through the sale of “energy products” and is ranked seventh in the list of shame. The company is credited with contributing 2.36% of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during a 52-year period which started at a point when, according to the institute, fossil fuel industry leaders had begun discussing the role of emissions in catastrophic climate change.

The top 20 companies listed, all of which are petroleum businesses, accounted for 35.45% of global GHG emissions. According to the analysis, Royal Dutch Shell emitted 31,948 Mt of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere between 1965 and 2017.

Shell response

The study adds, 90% of the emissions attributed to the big emitters came from using their products – including gas and petrochemical fuels. Only around 10% could be attributed to sales, refinery operations and other non-product activity.

Shell was one of the top 20 emissions producers to respond when contacted by English newspaper The Guardian, which has this week reported heavily on the Climate Accountability Institute findings.

The oil giant told the newspaper: “We agree that action is needed now on climate change so we fully support the Paris Agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future. We have already invested billions of dollars in a range of low-carbon technologies; from biofuels, hydrogen and wind power to electric vehicle charging and smart energy storage solutions. Addressing a challenge as big as climate change requires a truly collaborative, society-wide approach. We’re committed to playing our part by addressing our emissions and helping customers to reduce theirs.”

In the last fiscal year Shell claims to have invested $1-2 billion in renewable energy strategies, a figure which translated into 4-6% of its annual investment volume. It should be noted that the renewable energy system touted in the Philippines will power further oil extraction, with its associated GHG emissions and is also part powered by natural gas, the production of which has been linked to emissions of methane, the most potent of the GHGs.