Shell has decided to narrow its focus and end its investment in wind and solar projects. Last year it pulled out of the one thousand megawatt London Array project which would have been the world’s largest off shore wind farm. Instead Shell is going to focus on carbon sequestration technologies and biofuels.
According to The Guardian, Shell decided to quit investing in green technology like solar, wind and hydro because these technologies weren’t sound investments and didn’t make money for investors. This would be understandable if green technology weren’t poised for fast growth in the near future.
Shell is world’s largest “buyer and blender of crop-based biofuels”. Crop-based biofuels are blamed for deforestation and high food prices. Since biofuels frequently lead to greater emissions than either diesel or gas, the company’s move furthers the impression that it is investing in projects that are environmentally destructive.
The company’s investment in the Northern Canadian oil-sands project has been criticized because it will require massive amounts of energy to remove the oil. Shell has said that it is investing in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology to minimize the CO2 that is expected to be released during oil recovery.
In a further questionable move on the part of the company, Shell is increasing its debt level so that it can continue to pay dividends and invest in biofuel and CCS technology. In the midst of a worldwide economic meltdown crisis, this seems like an incredibly foolish move for the company to make.
Between Shell’s decisions to stop its clean energy investments and to increase its debt load to pay for dividends, the company is solidifying an image of corporate greed over corporate responsibility. Previously Shell appeared to be courting a more environmentally responsible image with advertisements that emphasized the company’s investment in clean energy. Apparently, Shell no longer cares for either the environment or the image.
Ironically, as more European countries are setting tougher environmental standards, Shell has become at best environmentally indifferent and at worst environmentally destructive.