Today Eric Holthusen one of Shells fuels technology mananger for the Asia-Pacific region, said, Shell is developing bio fuels from wood chips and plant waste and considers using food crops for fuel, morally inappropriate.
“If we have the choice today, then we will not use this route,” Malaysia-based Holthusen said at a seminar in Singapore.
“We think morally it is inappropriate because what we are doing here is using food and turning it into fuel. If you look at Africa, there are still countries that have a lack of food, people are starving, and because we are more wealthy, we use food and turn it into fuel. This is not what we would like to see. But sometimes economics force you to do it.”
“We are not resting. We are doing what everybody needs to do. We have worked overtime on an alternative to get away from food, and this is what we call the second generation of biofuels,” he said.
(via Reuters / Zdnet / Treehugger)
Here was an interesting comment on Treehugger as well:
Shell’s “No food for fuel” position contradicts what it is currently doing. In the Gulf of Mexico, Shell is constructing an open-loop liquified natural gas terminal that will kill many fish eggs and larvae and could have a devastating effect on Gulf fish populations. Is that not “food for fuel”
==== author’s response follows ====
Large corpporations are not monolithic; rather they are multi-unit groupings of often fairlyl autonomous strategic business units (SBU’s) . A statement like this one is likely viewed, internally, as applying to primarily the SBU of origin. That should not stop anyone on the outside from holding the entire company to the highest standard they put forward (and we recognize that is what our commenters are going to do).
Taking the long view of business strategy is what this post is really all about. Commercial production of biomass 9any type) to ethanol will not likely become profitable and scaled up to a national level for several decades. Over the course of manyyears, unsustainable businesses will be closed or spun off, and more sustainable ones grown. Designers have to start somewhere. And long term investment is needed for designers to work from. Investment planning has to be based upon strategy; and the ‘no food for fuel’ strategy is simply one of many strategies that firms like Shell may work from. We like it as a strategy.