When Shell came up with its kinetic energy, not many an expert took the global oil giant seriously. Though the company is actively involved in oil and gas exploration and product, its activities, an analyst noted, were too distant apart from unconventional power generation, particularly in terms of technology, let alone venturing into remote-generated electricity.
Arguably, Shell could pride itself with Afam Power Plant, which it built with a start-up production of over 400 megawatts to the grid via the open cycle phase, but later attained a generation capacity of 624 megawatts through the full combined-cycle phase. But its adventure into kinetic football pitch approach to light up environment was undermined, especially because of its strange terrain. .
Yet, Shell, in its unusual quest for research, maintained that the effort could worth its while to generate electricity through engagement in sport activities in the pitch, even though it was an unprecedented, which could result in huge loss of investment, if not successful. But some conventional energy experts, who would rather not applaud the oil giant’s determination, stood by the sideline, watching how Shell could perform the magic.
Shell’s Executive Vice President Innovation and Research and Development, Mr. Yuri Sebregts, who is also the company’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “Energy is vital to our daily lives. It helps us produce food, fuel transport and power communication channels across the world. As global population rises, more people are moving out of poverty and gaining access to energy.
“At Shell, we use human ingenuity, innovation and technology to unlock the energy our customers need to power their lives in the years ahead while aiming to limit our impact on the environment.
“We believe that human ingenuity and technology hold the key to deliver sustainable energy needed today and in the future. We have been a technology pioneer for over 100 years. Bright ideas from our people and original thinkers outside our company have resulted in some groundbreaking innovations.
“These are not always immediately visible to the public: some are in wells underground, for example, and others are in oceans. But they all contribute to meeting the needs of our customers and partners,” he added.
In 2014, Shell was able to achieve the feat in kinetic energy. Through its world’s first player powered community football pitch in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the company displayed its knowledge of being global energy solution provider.
In 2015, the company installed another kinetic football pitch at Federal College of Education, Akoka, Lagos, which is noted to be Pelé’s Energy Challenge.
Pelé’s Energy Challenge showcased the power of innovative kinetic tile technology, which could convert footsteps into renewable electricity. The challenge featured two teams that comprised children from London and Lagos linked up via satellite. The more energy a player generated on the tiles, the more time they had to compete, directly linking the technology to the task.
The tile technology used to refurbish the pitches and power Pelé’s Energy Challenge is the invention of young British entrepreneur and founder of Pavegen, Laurence Kemball-Cook, who has been supported through Shell LiveWIRE programme.
Pelé, while commenting on the feat, said: “I’ve seen first-hand how Shell has brought bright energy ideas to life, having helped launch the first kinetic pitch in Rio. And I’ve seen how this amazing technology has reinvigorated the community, allowing Brazilian children to follow their passion in sport and learn about future energy solutions in the process.
“I’m so excited to be here again and see the legacy of these pitches – how they continue to be used every day – while testing out this new energy challenge at Make the Future London,” he stressed.
Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCiN), Mr. Osagie Okunbor, who is also Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), stated: “The tile device at Akoka is not just another football pitch. It is a powerful statement on the kind of energy ideas that Shell and SPDC have been promoting in Nigeria.
“We are confident that Nigerian youths will take advantage of our LiveWIRE programme and launch bright energy ideas that will help to better the lives of millions of Nigerians,” he stressed.
Shell’s approach could help Nigeria to resolve its energy crisis, as the Minister of Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, promised that the Federal Government would seek alternatives sources of energy to tackle gas challenges, especially with the bombing of gas pipeline in the Niger Delta.
Sebregts had disclosed that the company had 45,000technical and engineering staff worldwide, while its global network of technical centres were located close to the company’s main markets and its production sites to drive forward the innovation needed to meet future energy challenges.
He said: “Around 10 per cent of our technical staff will conduct research and development at our technology centres in 11 countries. Their knowledge and creativity would help us to meet the world’s growing need for energy in a socially and environmentally responsible ways.
“Our internationally recognised Chief Scientists help to enhance the expertise of our staff and act as ambassadors for Shell technology, collaborating with academics and other industry experts to lead the way in their area of expertise. They work with our Chief Technology Officer to develop and deliver technologies that support our current business and to identify emerging technologies that will help shape the future of energy.
“At Shell, we recognise that no single company can develop all the products and technologies needed to meet the world’s growing demand for energy, with less environmental impact. We work closely with industry partners and recognised experts to spark new ideas, share knowledge and speed up the development of new concepts.
“This includes unusual collaborations beyond our own industry. We also welcome creative ideas to help tackle this challenge from outside contributors. Our approach is called ‘open innovation.’ Shell’s GameChanger programme invites original thinkers to share their ideas for resolving energy challenges. If we think a concept has potential, we can provide financial support to prove its feasibility.
“Since 1996 GameChanger has invested more than $300 million in more than 3,000 ideas and helped turn 250 of them into successful projects. These include early support for FLNG, a giant floating facility that cools natural gas to liquids at sea.
“The Shell Technology Ventures team invests in companies across the energy sector to speed up the development and deployment of new technologies which complement our business. It works closely with entrepreneurs and early-stage companies, as well as the venture capital firms who invest in them.
“Shell TechWorks is a new innovation programme designed to tap into existing innovation networks and accelerate the delivery of technologies that solve specific Shell challenges. It will take advantage of expertise from within the oil and gas industry, as well as other sectors such as aerospace, defence, IT and medical. It also aims to help encourage Shell to look externally, as well as internally, for expertise and new ideas,” he stressed.