Shell to build large production unit for biofuels in Rotterdam
The British-Dutch oil and gas company, Shell, plans to construct a large production unit for biofuels at the Shell Energy and Park Rotterdam (the Netherlands), formerly known as the Pernis refinery. The Rotterdam plant will produce 820 000 tons of biofuels a year.
“A facility of this size could produce enough renewable diesel to avoid 2 800 000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions a year, the equivalent of taking more than 1 million European cars off the roads,” Shell states in its press release.
Paris Climate Agreement
The new facility will help the Netherlands and Europe meet internationally binding emissions reduction targets. It will also help Shell meet its own target of becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society’s progress toward achieving the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.
Shell wants to halve fossil fuel production by 2030 and produce cleaner fuels like biofuels and hydrogen. As part of its Powering Progress strategy, Shell is transforming its refineries (14 in October 2020) into five energy and chemicals parks. The new facility in Pernis should be operational by 2024.
Shell aims to reduce the production of traditional fuels by 55% by 2030 and provide more low-carbon fuels such as biofuels for road transport and aviation, and hydrogen. These low-carbon fuels will help to meet growing demand from the transport sector, including hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as heavy road transport and aviation. SAF – Sustainable Aviation Fuel – currently accounts for around 0.1% of global aviation fuel.
The cleaner products will be based on used cooking oil, animal fat, coleseed oil, and other industrial and agricultural residual products, using advanced technology methods. The company has promised not to use palm oil for its biofuels.
In 2018, Dutch environmentalist organization, Milieudefensie, took Shell to court in The Hague to force the oil giant to accelerate greening and cut worldwide CO2 emissions by 45% in 2030, compared to 1990. The organization held Shell accountable for ‘dangerous climate damage’.
In May 2021, the Dutch judge decided that Shell, as a company, has to accelerate reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It was the world’s first that an oil company was sued for ‘climate damage’ and would be forced to change its strategies and investments.
The British-Dutch oil company has to almost halve (-45% compared to 2019) its CO2 emissions by 2030. The company also gets an obligation to perform to the best of its abilities. In other words, the court forces the oil company to review and adapt its business model.
Loss of biodiversity
Milieudefensie is not happy with the oil company’s plans and points out the disadvantages of biofuels. “The increased demand for vegetal oil leads to the loss of food crops, biodiversity, and land.” Moreover, the organization is not convinced either that Shell is going to emit less CO2.