Decarbonisation Technology August 2022 issue

Energy transition technology scenarios How the technology landscape may change in the short-, medium- and long- term of the energy transition

Nick Flinn and Chris Egby Shell Catalysts & Technologies

T o meet their decarbonisation goals, energy companies may need to rethink their business models and apply suites of technologies and tools, all while maintaining their competitiveness. In recent years, the sector has developed a wide range of highly effective decarbonisation technology solutions. These will be crucial, but it will also require technologies that are still in development and need complex engineering challenges to be resolved. At Shell Catalysts & Technologies, we have a unique perspective on energy-transition-related technologies; our corporate heritage is that of an energy provider, and we also provide tools, technologies, and insights to help Shell and others meet their energy transition objectives. So, this article explores technologies that may play a key role and discusses some of the engineering challenges that must be overcome. This report is broken down into short-, medium- and long-term trends, but no dates are given because the pace of change will vary around the world. Although each phase may be shorter or longer in different regions, the overall sequence is likely to be broadly applicable to most countries. In addition, it must be emphasised that, although these insights describe what the world may look like in each period, these are not forecasts or predictions. The intention is to provide context for the technologies through plausible representations of how things could play out. Much of this aligns with Shell’s Sky scenario, but of course there are other possible, credible futures. Interestingly, you will notice that many future technology solutions are likely to involve

repurposing or integrating existing, tried-and- tested technologies. Clearly, further scientific advances are necessary, for example to open new routes for re-engineering hydrocarbon molecules – and Shell continues to invest heavily here – but one should not overlook the opportunities that repurposing can provide. Two new Shell technology solutions illustrate this point. The recently introduced Shell Blue Hydrogen Process is based on the Shell Gasification Process, which has a 70-year track record. And our new hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) technology, the Shell Renewable Refining Process, is based on fundamental, decades- old hydrotreating and isomerisation catalyst technologies. That is not to say there was no ingenuity involved in its commercialisation, though: it took a great deal of innovation to understand the implications of the changing feed qualities, reaction kinetics, and product qualities, for example, and to manage the risks appropriately. But ultimately the heart of the technology already existed. This is highlighted for two reasons. First, the need for retraining in the oil and gas industry is high on the agendas of policymakers worldwide, but, from a technology perspective, the skills gap could be smaller than it may seem. Second, energy companies, often seen as risk averse, may be reassured that many emerging technologies draw on long track records. PART 1: Technology trends in the short term In this period, the energy transition is gathering pace. Driven by the need to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change


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