Shell withdraws from Algae biofuel project, moves on to other renewable energy

Fast Company has an article on Shell dropping its Algae biofuel project.

Shell Ditches Algae Biofuel


Oil companies are decent barometers of which biofuels are on the upswing. Case in point: As the hype around algae fuel has increased over the past few years, BP, Exxon, and Shell have all made algae biofuel commitments. Now, as the hype is dying down, so is the oil industry's interest. This week, Shell announced that it is exiting its final algae biofuel commitment.

2011 is Shell's "year of choices" -- a time when the company plans to cut down on its biofuel research paths from 10 technologies to five. Last week, Shell exited its investment in Choren, a biomass gasification business. This week, Shell will exit its shareholding inCellana, a joint algae biofuel venture between Shell and HR Biopetroleum Algae, according to Renewable Energy World.

Here is the press release by HR Biopetroleum.


(Honolulu, HI, January 27, 2011) -- HR BioPetroleum, Inc. (HRBP), a Hawaii-based and -founded renewable biofuels company, today announced that it will acquire Shell’s shareholding in Cellana, a joint venture between Shell and HRBP. On January 31, 2011, HRBP will become the sole owner of Cellana, including its six-acre demonstration facility in Kona, Hawaii.

In 2007, HRBP and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the international energy company, formed Cellana as a separate joint venture to build and operate a demonstration facility to grow marine algae and produce vegetable oil for conversion into biofuel.  To date, it is one of the most advanced operational demonstration facilities among algae-to-biofuel organizations and companies in the United States.

‘‘The acquisition of Cellana represents a significant opportunity for HRBP and its corporate and project stakeholders, including the University of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company, the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts consortium, the U.S. Department of Energy and others,’’ said Ed Shonsey, HRBP CEO

But, don’t think Shell isn’t still looking at renewable energy.

While algae biofuel may be out, Shell has many other biofuel endeavors that it is pursuing including:

  • Cosan partnership in Brazil for the "production of ethanol, sugar and power, and the supply, distribution and retail of transportation fuels."
  • Iogen Energy investment for developing "processing technology that enables ethanol to be made from straw using enzymes."
  • Codexis joint technology program to "develop more powerful enzymes for faster conversion of biomass to ethanol and other fuels."
  • Virent Energy Systems joint technology program to "convert plant sugars directly into a range of high performance liquid transport fuels."