Royal Dutch Shell will begin supplying renewable electricity to more than 700,000 homes in the UK this week as it powers up plans to become the world’s biggest electricity company.
Under the brand Shell Energy, it will become one of UK’s biggest green power suppliers overnight when it replaces First Utility, a year after acquiring the “big six” challenger brand. Customers from today automatically switch to green energy at no extra cost.
“On Monday morning more than 700,000 homes will wake up, turn on the lights, and switch on the kettle, using renewable electricity,” said Colin Crooks, the chief executive of Shell Energy Retail told UK media house Telegraph.
“We are building on the disruptive nature of First Utility to give customers something better. We know that renewable electricity is important to them and we are delivering that.” The new supplier will also offer a 15 percent discount on electric car chargers and a 3 percent discount on petrol and diesel at all Shell forecourts across the UK. The shift is cushioned by a survey that Shell undertook of UK household electricity bill payers, which found that almost 60% wanted to power their homes with electricity from renewable energy sources.
Shell Energy expects to roll out a string of other home energy services, including batteries, this year. The Anglo-Dutch company will draw on expertise gathered during its flurry of acquisitions of clean energy start-ups.
The oil and gas giant is reportedly planning to spend around $2bn a year on breaking into the market for clean electricity. It expects to become the biggest power company in the world by the early 2030s.
In addition to First Utility, Shell has snapped up NewMotion, Europe’s largest fast car-charging network, Limejump, the energy software company, and Sonnen, the battery-maker this february. Shell is also in talks to buy Eneco, the Dutch utility.
Maarten Wetselaar, director of Shell’s new energies division, told reporters earlier this year that the energy supply company “may be small, but it’s an important part of the business”.
“We are deeply committed and we intend to grow substantially,” he said. “We would not get into this market and continue to supply fewer than a million customers. I think you will see we will be very active … for the coming year.”
Shell New Energies reportedly has focused on two main areas: new fuels for transport, such as advanced biofuels and hydrogen; and power, being involved at almost every stage of the process, from generating electricity, to buying and selling it, to supplying it directly to customers. But much remains to be seen with the parent company’s commitment for greener future. Despite investing and rebranding itself as a green power company, the company has been pushing for fossil fuel exploration in Africa. Investors have been putting pressure on companies to protect their business from a shift to lower-carbon fuels, driven by new laws and consumer choices. That pressure is especially acute in Europe, which is why the world’s No. 2 oil explorer by market value is seen shifting away from Fossils. But even with the new green purchases, achieving its targets around power will probably require a “major overhaul” of its investment priorities. Currently, half of Shell’s capital is allocated to its upstream business, which finds and pumps oil and gas, with only about 5 percent dedicated to new energies.