Fuel Giant Shell Plans to Have Solar Plants That Switch to Gas in Australia

Jon Capistrano
Jon Capistrano
February 8, 2017

Oil giant Shell is planning to invest in Australian solar plants that can switch to traditional gas when needed to deliver the baseload power supply, as debate continues over the renewable energy security in the aftermath of South Australia’s power outage as reported by The Australian.

Shell is one of the world’s largest oil companies and Australia’s biggest LNG exporter revealed that Australia was one of the three global locations where it was studying pairing renewable energy with traditional gas. It was flagged last year that new energies would be a potential source of growth for the fossil fuel company beyond 2020.

Shell’s global chief, Ben van Beurden, stated that renewables alone will not be enough to provide the world with cleaner power. He also said that integrated gas and renewables in a growing economy is a logical and sensible offering.

Chief financial officer Simon Henry confirmed that Australia was one of the regions where combined renewables and traditional gas were being studied.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared this week that dealing with the east coast’s energy disturbance was a priority as Australian states pursue individual renewable policies, east coast gas prices surge on LNG export demand and state gas production restrictions. And the effects of the South Australian power outages have cost millions of dollars.

PM Turnbull stated that modern clean-coal technologies will be a key factor in his platform, but Australia’s largest energy providers, Origin and AGL stated that it is unlikely to happen because the technology is too expensive. They also said that investors are scared of policy changes to commit investments with long lead times which can run into billions of dollars.

PM Turnbull has flagged using funds from the Clean Energy Development Fund in building modern coal-powered generators. The government, on the other hand, has convinced Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank to lend $100 billion for coal-fired electricity generation in Asia.

The oil giant’s plan is to develop economically viable renewable power stations where gas can be switched whenever needed. It could lessen the need for both coal-baseload power and expensive gas-only peaking power plants. Shell also won a bid last December to build a 700-megawatt wind farm off the coast of Holland.

Click here to read the full story on The Australian

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