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Shell CEO Ben van Beurden: ‘Set achievable goals, otherwise energy transition will be great disappointment’

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden

Printed below is an English translation of an article published today by the Dutch Financial Times, Financieele Dagblad.

Bert van Dijk Entrepreneurship: 20 March 2018

The idea that the world can do without oil or gas in the short term is not realistic. Shell CEO Ben van Beurden argues for setting feasible goals. If that does not happen then ‘the energy transition becomes a big disappointment’. Van Beurden said that on Monday evening in the first Elsevier Economics lecture in De Rode Hoed in Amsterdam.

The Shell Chairman of the Board held a plea for a sold out room for cooperation with governments, NGOs, companies and citizens to successfully realize the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources. In doing so, he emphasized, as he did before, that more realism is needed.


‘It is not all that simple as it is sometimes claimed. Even if everyone is going to drive on electricity (or hydrogen), we can not do without gas or oil. Even if every device with a plug in the world could now be supplied with power via solar or wind energy, we can not do without gas or oil. Even if every house, office and every factory is perfectly insulated, we can not do without gas or oil, “says Van Beurden.

“I know what a large number of you think at the moment,” he told his audience. “” They do invent something about that. “[…] A new – as yet unknown – answer … A disruption … Something with an app …” ‘


But according to Van Beurden, even the biggest disrupters – the tech companies in Silicon Valley – have experienced that the energy transition works differently than the ICT market. Van Beurden: ‘In 2008, with the best intentions of the world, Google took the initiative to drastically reduce the use of coal and oil in the United States in 2030. By calling to reduce electricity from coal and oil to zero. […] Google stopped this campaign in November 2011. It did not set goals, but gave them up, “Van Beurden said.

And so expectations and goals must become more real, says Van Beurden. For example, he pointed out that only 20% of the global energy system is electricity. That can be greened with windmills and solar panels, but then you still retain the remaining 80%.

Relevant products

‘Carriers who want to move a heavy load over the road or over water over a large distance are currently faced with the choice: do I transport my cargo or do I transport the batteries? Because both are not yet workable. ”

Shell sees many opportunities in the uncertain future. ‘Of course, Shell must be attractive to investors. But we can only continue to earn money in the long run if we supply the kind of energy that society requires. We have to deliver relevant products’, says Van Beurden.


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