Shell Oil commits (maybe) to renewable energy

Over the past two years, Shell Oil has flip-flopped about its position on renewable energy like a marlin on the deck of a Florida charter boat. But its latest acquisition of independent power producer (IPP) MP2 Energy may signal they’ve finally decided to go all in. Shell announced the acquisition last week.

MP2 Energy helps commercial and industrial customers manage energy supply, load and generation, focusing primarily on distributed generation sources like wind and solar. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter.

“We are proud to bring MP2 into the Shell Energy North America (SENA) family,” said Glenn Wright, VP at SENA.  “MP2 has established itself as a significant player in the large end-user electricity market, and achieved its position by combining optimally designed energy solutions and exceptional customer service.”

Shell’s investment in MP2 may come as a surprise to some, who may have taken Shell CEO Ben van Beurden at his word in November when, according to a Bloomberg report by Anna Hirtenstein, he told a room full of solar investors this:

“Growth of renewables has been remarkable but capacity of industry to make money in that segment has been remarkably absent. The 10 largest solar companies collectively never paid a cent of dividends.’’

Or in May 2016, when, according to The Guardian, he told Shell shareholders that the company would not be investing in solar until it could show a profit. He added Shell had learned a painful lesson with a previous foray in photovoltaics that taught the company that petroleum geologists did not make the best electrical engineers

[Editor: It should be noted that we find it odd that a company as savvy as Shell ever thought petroleum geologists had the same skill set as electrical engineers.]

Once the acquisition becomes final, MP2 will become a wholly owned subsidiary of SENA.