You are here:


We produce low-carbon biofuel, distribute biofuels worldwide and continue to develop advanced biofuels for the future.

Road vehicles today account for around 17% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels. The number of cars on the road is expected to rise to 2 billion by 2050, with the amount of freight carried by trucks doubling. With this expected rapid growth in vehicles, Shell believes low-carbon biofuels, coupled with gains in engine efficiency, are one of the quickest and most practical ways to reduce CO2 emissions from road transport in the next 20 years.

Today, biofuels make up 3% of the global road transport fuel mix. This figure could rise to over 10% by 2050, according to our scenarios.

Shell is one of the world’s largest distributors of biofuels. In 2012, we used around 7.7 billion litres in our petrol and diesel blends worldwide. Raízen (Shell interest 50%) produces low-carbon biofuel – ethanol made from sugar cane in Brazil. This biofuel can reduce CO2 emissions by around 70% compared to petrol, from cultivation of the sugar cane to using the ethanol as fuel. With an annual production capacity of around 2.2 billion litres, Raízen is one of the world’s largest ethanol producers.

Meeting sustainability standards

The environmental benefits of biofuels vary. Overall CO2 emissions can differ widely, depending on the raw materials used, as well as the production and distribution methods. Other challenges that need to be managed are competition for land, impact on biodiversity and local communities, and use of water.

Shell has been working to improve sustainability standards in our biofuels supply chain for many years. Our internal systems and purchasing policy help us to assess potential sustainability risks throughout the supply chain. This has allowed us to implement controls and monitor progress. Since 2007, we have introduced environmental and social sustainability clauses into new and renewed contracts for the biofuels that we buy for blending with our petrol and diesel. These clauses are designed to make sure that the biofuels we buy are not knowingly linked to the violation of human rights, nor produced from raw materials cultivated in areas of rich biodiversity. By the end of 2012, more than 97% of the volume of biofuels we purchased were covered by these clauses.

We also aim to increase the percentage of certified volumes of biofuels we buy that meet standards developed by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, the Roundtable for Responsible Soy, Bonsucro (for sugar-cane ethanol) and the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels. These standards include comprehensive requirements to manage environmental and social impacts.