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Energy transition

Navigate the energy transition

Adapt your business to the energy system of the future and improve competitiveness.

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Energy transition

Energy transition pathways

The energy transition presents a major challenge to organisations in a wide range of industries, from energy companies, who must find ways to maintain their competitiveness while moving the world to a new energy system, through to those in the power, steel, cement and paper and pulp sectors, which are known as ‘hard to abate’ due to a number of technical and economic factors.

Shell’s response involves three decarbonisation pathways: energy efficiency; making or using lower-carbon energy products; and capturing and storing the remaining emissions. These pathways also form the basis of how Shell Catalysts & Technologies is helping customers work towards their energy-transition-related strategic visions.

As the changes that lie ahead may affect companies’ business fundamentals, we also consider a fourth pathway: adapt to the energy transition.

For example, we are helping:

  • petrochemicals companies to reduce their carbon footprint by switching to our ultra energy efficient catalysts,
  • refiners to create lower-carbon energy products such as biofuels and
  • companies from hard-to-abate sectors such as power, steel, cement and paper and pulp to decarbonise through the use of blue hydrogen.

To see how these pathways align with Scope 1–3 terminology, click here.

Select a pathway for more information

Increase energy efficiency

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Improving energy efficiency in the facilities that bring energy products to consumers

Shell, as an operating company, has broad experience in meeting energy efficiency challenges and has developed a set of industry-leading tools and techniques. Tap into this know-how through our services.

Did you know? Over 30% of sites worldwide receive our technical support.

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Make lower-carbon products

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Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from products’ end use

The facilities that bring energy products to the customer are typically responsible for less than 15% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with an energy product.

Around 85% of the greenhouse gas emissions come from the products’ end-use – by consumers driving their cars, for example, which demonstrates the importance of lower-carbon energy products such as biofuels.

Did you know? In 2020, Shell’s Rheinland refinery in Germany produced enough low carbon diesel to fill over half a million vehicles a year, removing 50kt of CO₂ in the process, and has ambitions to further increase production.

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Capture and store emissions

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Mitigating emissions with carbon sinks

Any serious ambitions to reduce a facility’s carbon intensity are likely to require carbon capture and storage (CCS). According to the International Energy Agency, this is a key technology for reducing CO₂ emissions in carbon-intensive industrial processes and offers one of the lowest-cost ways of doing so.

Shell is helping to develop large-scale commercial CCS projects and is an owner-operator of a global refinery network, and Shell Catalysts & Technologies has developed two leading carbon capture technologies.

Did you know? Shell is working with Equinor and Total to inject and store up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO₂ per year at Northern Lights.

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Adapt to the energy transition

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Helping customers to remain competitive as demand for transport fuel declines

One consequence of the energy transition is growing demand for battery electric vehicles. This could have a major impact on refiners, as about 50% of refinery output is directed towards road transportation fuels, so any substantial moves towards electrification have significant potential to reduce demand for diesel and gasoline.

Meanwhile, other challenges remain, including pressure on margins and utilisation, responding to tightening environmental regulations and finding ways to minimise the amount of bottoms sent to the bunker fuel pool.

Did you know? Shell Catalysts & Technologies helped Hyundai Oilbank to enter the lubricant base oil business by providing base oil technology and also revamping its vacuum distillation and hydrocracking units to ensure the new plant received the right quality feed.

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How Shell Catalysts & Technologies helps customers...


...increase energy efficiency

  • Ethylene oxide catalysts

    The high selectivity and activity of our latest-generation ethylene oxide catalysts means less ethylene is consumed and, therefore, less CO₂ is produced.

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  • Hydrocracking

    Our designs provide a 35-40% reduction in fractionation furnace energy consumption when compared with the conventional stripper-fractionator configuration.

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  • Hydrotreating

    Design factors such as fractionation improvements and low gas circulation in the high-pressure loop help reduce CO₂ emissions by 5-20% compared with standard designs.

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  • Sulfinol-X

    This sour gas treating process, which has application in LNG and natural gas facilities, has low solvent regeneration requirements.

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...make lower-carbon energy products

  • Shell Renewable Refining Process

    A hydroprocessing technology for producing renewable fuels from a wide range of vegetable oils, fats and greases.

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  • Co-processing biofeeds

    Our consultants can help refiners to identify and mitigate the risks associated with co-processing biofeeds in an existing hydrotreater.

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  • Shell Fiber Conversion Technology

    A bolt-on technology that enables first-generation ethanol producers to generate higher-value products, including second-generation ethanol and corn oil from corn waste.

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  • Shell gasification process

    Enables unwanted streams such as steam cracker residues to be converted into syngas, a high-value product that can be used for producing chemicals, hydrogen and power.

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  • IH²

    Uses hydropyrolysis and hydroconversion to turn non-food organic residues into transportation fuels; this technology is still under development.

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  • Shell Blue Hydrogen Process

    Enables heavy industries, refiners seeking to decarbonise operations and resource holders looking to create value from natural gas, to create affordable blue hydrogen.

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  • Helping hard-to-abate sectors make low-carbon products

    Power, steel, cement and paper and pulp companies can make low-carbon products by capturing and storing CO₂ emissions with ADIP ULTRA or the CANSOLV CO₂ Capture System.

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...capture and store remaining emissions


    Captures CO₂ from high-pressure process streams. At the Quest project in Canada, this solvent technology is capturing CO₂ from hydrogen manufacturing units.

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  • CANSOLV CO₂ Capture System

    Captures CO₂ from low-pressure streams. At SaskPower’s Boundary Dam power station in Canada, this technology is capturing CO₂ from flue gas.

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...and adapt to the energy transition

  • Producing more petrochemicals

    We work with refiners to help ensure that they are directing hydrocarbons to the highest-value applications and to provide additional flexibility.

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  • Increasing residue conversion

    Cost effectively increase residue conversion by revamping existing units and combining them with another residue upgrading technology, such as solvent deasphalting.

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  • Producing refining specialities

    We have supported several refiners as they have reconfigured their hydrocrackers to generate high-quality feed for new base oils plants.

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Real-world examples of our energy transition solutions

Energy transition
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65°C lower operating temperature

by switching to our latest-generation ethylbenzene dealkylation catalyst, Zataris-21.

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$15 million a year

with a payback period of under six months from helping a refinery to co-process biofeeds in its diesel hydrotreater.

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6 Mt of CO₂ in CCS

equivalent to annual emissions from 1.5 million cars, captured and safely stored by the Quest facility at a lower cost than expected.

“Pathways” or “scopes”?

The four pathways described above provide useful segmentation, but we understand that many in the industry may be more familiar with the scope 1–3 terminology. So how do these compare?

Your Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions include the emissions from your plant. To address these, you can increase energy efficiency (Pathway 1) and capture and store the remaining emissions (Pathway 3).

However, the bulk of your emissions are likely to come from your products’ end use – from the use of gasoline and diesel in cars and jet fuel in planes, for example. These are Scope 3 emissions, and you can address these with the technologies in Pathway 2, which can help you to create energy products with a lower carbon intensity.

Differentiating and limiting scope 1–3 emissions

Press the marked areas to learn more about each
A graphic showcasing the different sources that contribute to scope 1–3 emissions
Detail 1

Scope 1 emissions

Scope 1 are directed emissions from operations that are owned or controlled by the organisation. These emissions can be addressed by increasing energy efficiency (Pathway 1) and capturing and storing the remaining emissions (Pathway 3).

Detail 2

Scope 2 emissions

Scope 2 emissions are indirectly attributed to the organisation from the generation of electricity, heat, steam or cooling in owned, leased or controlled equipment or operations. They can be addressed by increasing energy efficiency (Pathway 1) and capturing and storing the remaining emissions (Pathway 3).

Detail 3

Scope 3 emissions

Scope 3 are the emissions that occur as a consequence of the organisation’s operation, but are not directly controlled or owned by it, such as use of sold products. These can be addressed by making lower-carbon energy products (Pathway 2).

Detail 4

A path towards lower emissions

Scope 1–3 emissions lead to CO₂ and other greenhouse emissions such as nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and methane. But organisations can limit these using the four energy transition pathways.