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Improving standards in production

Shell demands that the biofuels we purchase are produced in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible when reviewed across the life cycle of its production chain. We currently buy biofuels from more than 100 suppliers around the world, which are blended into our own fuels in many countries. Government mandates in these countries require fuel retailers to blend a certain percentage of biofuels into their petrol or diesel.

We introduced our own sustainability contract clauses when no industry standards existed and certified material was not available to purchase. These contract clauses aim to drive improvements in human rights standards and biodiversity from the biofuels that we purchase. In 2014, more than 99% of biofuel volumes that Shell bought and blended into petrols were covered by these contract clauses, while around 40% of these volumes were certified as sustainable by an independent auditor (working to standards set out in the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive).

We are working to increase the proportion of independently certified volumes and we support the adoption of international standards such as Bonsucro for sugar cane, the Round Table on Responsible Soy, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Every year, 100% of the palm oil that Shell blends is either independently certified by RSPO, the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification or covered by offsets from GreenPalm. We are working to increase the purchase of certified sustainable sugar-cane ethanol and soy biodiesel.

Advanced biofuels

We continue to invest in new ways of producing biofuels from sustainable feedstocks, such as biofuels made from waste product or cellulosic biomass. These advanced biofuels will potentially emit less CO2 in the production process than the biofuels available today.

In 2012, we built a pilot plant for advanced biofuels at our Technology Centre in Houston, USA, to produce biofuels that can be more easily mixed with petrol or diesel. The pilot plant converts cellulosic biomass, which are non-food plants, into a range of products, including petrol, diesel and aviation fuel. In 2015, Shell will build a pilot plant to test technology that will produce cellulosic ethanol.

In Brazil, Raízen completed the construction of a plant at its Costa Pinto mill to produce advanced biofuels from sugar-cane waste. The technology is provided by Iogen Energy. It is expected to produce 38 million litres of cellulosic ethanol a year.