The new plant will be operational in 2024 and should become one of the largest for biofuels in Europe with a production of 820,000 tons. Shell says it will prevent 2.8 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.
That is only a fraction of the total CO2 emissions for which Shell is responsible. For Shell’s own production complexes, this amounts to 63 million tons. And if you also add the emissions of all users of Shell products, it amounts to 550 million tons.
This investment is therefore good for a 0.5 percent reduction in CO2 emissions at Shell. CO2 is seen as the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming.
A drop in the ocean if you consider that the judge in May ruled that Shell must have reduced its CO2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2019.
Still, Shell Pernis director Jos van Winsen calls it a step in the right direction. “This is the largest investment at Pernis in the past 24 years. We are laying an egg here in the energy transition. Now the customer has to change. And start using biofuels.”
Nothing closed yet
Van Winsen does not intend to close the normal fuel factories with the construction of the biofuel factory. “In the short term, that production will remain what it is now. But I do hope that it will go down quickly in Pernis as well.”
Shell has 14 major refinery complexes worldwide. Five of these are slowly being converted and, just like in Pernis, they have to make more biofuels. The others will close, although it is unclear how long that will last. Shell still invests most of its annual budget in oil and gas exploration.”
The biofuel that Shell will make is intended to be mixed with ordinary fuels for aircraft and cars. With petrol and diesel, 10 and 7 percent respectively of biofuel is already added.
Van Winsen hopes that there will also be an obligation for kerosene. “Now that mixing is only 0.1 percent.”
The biofuel will soon be made at Shell from frying fat and vegetable oils. The big question is whether there will be enough of this if the biofuels market grows strongly. “We will have to eat a lot more fries,” says energy expert David Smeulders of Eindhoven University of Technology.
“If you look at the ambitions that the Netherlands has with biofuel, we need half to all the frying fat available in Europe.”
And that does not seem realistic because other countries also want to produce more biofuels. “So there is a problem with how we will soon distribute the available biofuels.”
He thinks that aviation in particular can lay a claim on much of the biofuel. “Companies or road transport can come to an end with electricity and hydrogen. But I really don’t see a large aircraft flying with it yet.”
Van Winsen of Shell also hopes that aviation will soon use more biofuel. “It is not yet mandatory for airlines. That should come. And that can be done when we have the factory ready.”