The Independent reports unnamed sources as saying that Shell and its partners, Mitsubishi and Dutch energy company Eneco, are seeking to divest up to 45% of their stake in the Borssele III and IV windfarms off the coast of the Netherlands.
The windfarms, which together have a capacity of 700MW, are predicted to require $1.4bn (£1.06bn) of investment up to 2020. This would mean the stake on offer would cost around $630m (£477m), with a steady but slow return on investment.
Far from abandoning renewable energy, Shell has previously stated a strategy of driving the initial stages of giant windfarms without holding assets for the long term. By divesting a large portion of its stake, it can reduce its financial exposure to the Borssele windfarms and free up capital for new projects, possibly with greater returns.
Shell is not the only oil major diversifying into alternative energy sources, though; ExxonMobil, the producer of industrial greases like Mobilith SHC PM 460, has invested heavily in using algae to produce biofuel on an industrial scale. This would have a number of advantages over crop-based biofuels. It could, for example, be produced on land that is unsuitable for food production, and it would yield much more biofuel per acre of land than say palm or soybean oil. It also has convenient similarities with today’s transport fuels, so algae-based biofuels could be processed in existing refineries alongside traditional petrol and diesel fuels, then used in existing diesel engines without major modifications.