Shell plans to spend $1bn a year on clean energy by 2020 – CEO

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Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to spend as much as $1 billion a year on its New Energies division as the transition toward renewable power and electric cars accelerates, Bloomberg reports.

“In some parts of the world we are beginning to see battery electric cars starting to gain consumer acceptance” while wind and solar costs are falling fast, Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden said in a speech addressing the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul on Monday. “All of this is good news for the world and must accelerate,” while still offering opportunities for producers of fossil fuels.

Shell sees opportunities in hydrogen fuel-cells, liquefied natural gas and next-generation biofuels for air travel, shipping and heavy freight — areas of transport for which batteries aren’t adequate. The intermittent nature of wind and solar energy means power plants fired by natural gas will have a long-term role, Van Beurden said.

While Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Saudi Arabian Oil Co. boss Amin Nasser said oil and gas will be dominant for decades to come, Van Beurden highlighted the potential for some of the fastest-growing nations to leapfrog straight to a cleaner energy mix. He also noted that these countries will still require fossil fuels to develop industries such as steel, cement and chemicals because they need a heat intensity that cannot come from electricity alone.