Shell scientists, researchers and engineers around the globe are working to develop, deploy and commercialise technologies that are vital in the transition to a low-carbon energy future. In 2021, we spent $815 million on research and development (R&D), compared with $907 million in 2020. In 2021, we started work on 182 R&D projects with universities, compared with 124 in 2020. Discover some examples of how Shell applies innovation to produce more and cleaner energy. Find out more about our approach to sustainability and our performance data in our Sustainability Report.

Hydrogen heavy duty los angeles


Hydrogen plays a central role in helping the world reach net-zero emissions. Because hydrogen has a high energy density, it is especially suitable for hard-to-electrify sectors like heavy-duty transport, heavy industry, shipping and aviation.

We are working globally on new technologies across the entire hydrogen supply chain – from production to storage, transport and use – to develop hydrogen into an accessible, affordable low-carbon fuel for transport and as feedstock for chemicals.

In 2021, we opened REFHYNE, the largest electrolyser of its kind in Europe, at our Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland. This 10 MW electrolyser uses renewable energy to produce up to 1,300 tonnes of hydrogen produced from renewables a year.

Plans are in place to build a 200MW electrolyser, Holland Hydrogen I, in the Port of Rotterdam. The decarbonised hydrogen produced from the electrolyser will be used in our Energy and Chemicals park Rotterdam, with the surplus hydrogen going to our hydrogen retail network. A final investment decision on the electrolyser is expected sometime in 2022.

Together with partners, Shell is also aiming to build one of the largest European renewables-based hydrogen projects in the Netherlands. If given the go-ahead, NortH2 will be capable of producing more than 800,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen a year by electricity generated from a 10 GW offshore wind farm in the North Sea.

These developments are supported by an R&D programme to test and develop new electrolysers in close cooperation with a variety of third parties.

Along with our partners in the CO2-free Hydrogen Energy Supply-chain Technology Research Association (HySTRA), we are developing technologies to transport large volumes of liquid hydrogen by sea. The world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier – the Suiso Frontier – completed its maiden voyage, sailing from Japan to Australia at the end of 2021, where it was loaded with liquified hydrogen before returning to Japan in early 2022.

In the USA in 2021, a Shell-led consortium of leading US companies and research institutions was selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to develop large-scale liquid hydrogen storage technology. The aim of the project is to develop the technologies needed to create a commercially viable international supply chain for decarbonised hydrogen.

Find out more about Shell’s hydrogen business at

Renewable and sustainable fuels

In 2021 we took a final investment decision to build one of Europe’s biggest biofuels plants at the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park in the Netherlands. The facility will use advanced process technology and catalysts developed by Shell to produce up to 820,000 tonnes a year of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel from industrial and agricultural residual products. A facility of this size could produce enough renewable diesel to avoid 2.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, the equivalent of taking more than 1 million European cars off the roads.

This announcement is a key part of the transformation of one of our major refineries into an energy and chemicals park, which will supply customers with the low-carbon products they want and need.

Huibert Vigeveno, Shell’s Downstream Director

This announcement is a key part of the transformation of one of our major refineries into an energy and chemicals park, which will supply customers with the low-carbon products they want and need.

Huibert Vigeveno, Shell’s Downstream Director

Carbon capture

Carbon capture

In 2021, we moved our solid sorbent carbon capture pilot from Austria to the Netherlands after completing the successful ViennaGreenCO2 project. The pilot plant now captures CO2 produced by generating electricity from chicken manure at BMC Moerdijk. It is a critical step on the way to a first commercial scale deployment of Solid Sorbent Technology.

Subject to R&D progress and future investment decisions, we aim to accelerate development and deployment of the Solid Sorbent Technology towards a commercial scale unit. If successful, the reduced CO2 capture costs and improved environmental performance of Solid Sorbent Technology when compared to existing CO2 capture technologies will give more CO2 emitters the opportunity to capture and store their emissions.

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