Research and development

Innovation will be critical for Shell to provide more energy with less environmental impact as the world transitions to a lower-carbon energy system.

A kite used for wind power generation (photo)

In 2016, Shell Technology Ventures invested in Kite Power Systems, a UK company developing high-altitude wind power generation technology.

Shell continues to invest in research and development (R&D) to improve the efficiency of our products, processes and operations, and to develop new technology solutions for the energy transition. In 2016, we invested $1,014 million in .

We operate a global network of technology centres, with major hubs in Houston, USA, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Bangalore, India. These hubs carry out a range of activities, from building on existing technologies to designing breakthrough innovations.

Collaborating for innovation

We have programmes, partners and funding methods to help us develop new technologies.

Our R&D activities are complemented by research and technology collaborations with leading universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA,  Imperial College in the UK, and the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

We have three main collaborative programmes that support the development of future energy technology:

  • Shell GameChanger: this programme provides financial and technical support to prove the commercial and technical viability of ideas within the oil and gas sector including new energies. Since 1996, GameChanger has interacted with more than 5,000 innovators and helped turn more than 150 ideas into reality.
    Many ideas currently in operation or under development in Shell were initiated through GameChanger. For example, the programme evaluated the feasibility of building a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility to produce and liquefy natural gas at sea. Shell is now constructing Prelude FLNG, which will be located off the coast of Western Australia.
    GameChanger connects with early-stage start-ups, incubators and accelerators (schools for start-ups) globally. One of these is Cyclotron Road, a California-based energy entrepreneurship programme which recruits people to work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to research potential new energy technologies. Opus 12, a start-up at Cyclotron Road, won the 2016 Shell GameChanger Innovation Challenge. Opus 12 is researching recycling carbon dioxide into chemicals and fuels using an electrochemical process.
  • Shell Technology Ventures (STV): is our corporate venturing arm that is both an investor and a partner in companies that are developing promising technologies which complement Shell’s business. invests mainly in oil and gas, new energy technologies and information technology.
    STV’s investments in 2016 included California-based Growing Energy Labs which provides software to design, connect and operate energy storage and micro-grid projects. Another investment was Sense Labs, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company which has developed a device enabling households to monitor the energy use of any home appliance from mobile devices.
    In 2016, STV also invested in the UK company Kite Power Systems (KPS). Following Shell’s early-stage support to KPS through GameChanger, this latest investment will support the technical and commercial development of KPS’s high-altitude wind power generation technology. This is cheaper to manufacture and needs less construction and installation materials than conventional wind turbines.
  • Shell TechWorks (STW): based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, STW aims to accelerate the introduction and adoption of proven technologies from other industries and apply these to our sector. Since its founding in 2013, STW has collaborated with companies, universities, research institutes and start-ups to help develop and deploy technology quickly and cost-effectively. For example, STW collaborated with other companies to develop a system for robot submarines to detect hydrocarbons that seep naturally from the seabed. This gives it the potential to identify new reservoirs of hydrocarbon exploration, but also detect leaks at existing operations.

Low-carbon research & development investment

Projects grouped on a matrix with increasing technology maturity from left to right, for 6 areas: Gas, CCS, Biofuels, Solar, Energy carriers and Wind from top to bottom; The projects are either in commercial operation, technology demonstration/research or used in Shell operations. (graph)
research and development
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Shell Technology Ventures
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