Asia and Shell can work together on solutions for the energy transition
Mar 09, 2018
Yuri Sebregts, Executive Vice President Technology and Chief Technology Officer, Royal Dutch Shell, speaks at Make the Future opening ceremony on March 9, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen.
I always enjoy coming to Asia. It is an exciting region… an engine of growth for the world.
Because of my job, I especially enjoy witnessing the speed at which technology is developed and deployed at scale here.
Often, these technologies are innovative responses to specific challenges.
Take, for example, digital wallets, which took off in China as an alternative to cash – because credit cards were not easily available.
Today, Asia and, indeed, the world, faces another, much bigger and far more complex, challenge – tackling climate change.
As the world’s economies grow, they will need more energy to power industries and homes, to fuel cars, trucks and vans, to move trains, ships and planes.
At the same time, the world needs to find ways to manage and reduce its carbon emissions.
Given Asia’s affinity for technology, the energy transition which is underway to deal with climate change offers the region many opportunities to find solutions.
The same can be said of Shell.
In fact, I have noticed that when Shell works alongside the brightest minds of Asia, great things happen.
One example is IH2, a technology we have been piloting at our Shell Technology Centre in Bangalore. It can convert solid biomass – such as forestry, municipal and agricultural waste - into transportation fuels.
IH2 fuels recently went through their toughest trial yet, through some of the world’s most extreme weather conditions, in a 56-day expedition to the South Pole.
There, in temperatures of minus 60 degrees Celsius, jet fuel created by IH2 technology was used for another purpose: to cook food and melt snow for water, keeping the expedition team warm, dry and fed in the harsh South Pole environment.
More lies ahead for IH2. We have just opened a demonstration plant in Bangalore which can process up to five tonnes of feedstock a day – about the weight of two adult elephants. It is a big step towards taking IH2 to the next level, for commercial use.
Our Bangalore technology centre, which opened last year, is one of Shell’s three global hubs for innovation, after Amsterdam and Houston.
Its collaborations with universities and research institutes are one example of Shell’s partnerships with Asia’s best innovators.
I will mention two more:
In May last year, with China’s Tsinghua University, we opened a joint research centre for clean mobility to develop new technologies and conduct industry studies.
And right here in Singapore, our venture capital arm, Shell Technology Ventures, has invested in the innovative solar development company, Sunseap.
Shell and Sunseap intend to collaborate on solar projects across Asia.
But it is not just big ventures that we are investing in. We also support early-stage companies with fresh ideas.
We do this through programmes like the Shell IdeaRefinery accelerator in Singapore where promising companies get coaching and exposure to mentors and investors.
Another is our Shell E4 programme in India. In this, startups not only receive mentoring and investment, they also get to base themselves at our technology centre in Bangalore to use our facilities, work with our experts and learn from each other.
And, of course, we have been organising the Shell Eco-marathon since 1985. It is a sign of Shell’s long-term commitment to a cleaner future of energy and transport, which includes inspiring future scientists, engineers and innovators to solve the challenges posed by the energy transition to a low-carbon future.
Over the last 33 years, more than 75,000 students have taken part in Shell Eco-marathons around the world, designing, building and testing energy-efficient vehicles from scratch.
I enjoyed meeting this year’s participants at Make the Future, which is running alongside the Shell Eco-marathon.
Make the Future celebrates innovative energy ideas which Shell supports.
For example, MotionECO, which seeks to transform used cooking oil into sustainable biofuels.
Graviky Labs, which captures air pollution from vehicle exhaust pipes and turns it into ink.
And Capture Mobility, which uses wind turbines to harvest the energy of moving air created by passing traffic.
In fact, Capture Mobility’s Pakistani founder, Sanwal Muneer, thought of the idea when he took part in the Shell Eco-marathon in Kuala Lumpur in 2012.
He was standing by the racetrack in the humidity and heat - grateful for the gusts of cool wind from the passing cars.
Two years later, Capture Mobility won a clean energy award from the United Nations.
It is exciting to think that somebody who is here for this year’s Shell Eco-Marathon, perhaps someone sitting next to you right now, might go on to develop the next great energy innovation.
It is quite possible.
After all, when Shell and Asia come together, great things happen.