Fossil fuel giant sets up renewable energy division

Norway's biggest oil producer is establishing a new business encompassing renewable energy and other low-carbon energy solutions.

New Energy Solutions will use Statoil's existing offshore wind portfolio as a starting point to constitute its activities in the renewables space

New Energy Solutions will use Statoil's existing offshore wind portfolio as a starting point to constitute its activities in the renewables space

Statoil, which is the world's eleventh largest oil and gas company, announced today (12 May) that it is to set up New Energy Solutions (NES); to compliment its existing business and "drive profitable growth" in the green energy market. 

The new company will report directly to the Statoil chief executive, with a more detailed plan for the new business being developed as an integrated part of Statoil’s strategy.

"The transition of the global energy systems to a low-carbon society creates new business and growth opportunities within renewables and new energy solutions," reads a company statement

"The ambition is to grow and potentially expand into other sources of renewable energy, while also considering appropriate financial structures. The business area will seek new opportunities to deliver attractive returns through technology and business innovation, as well as venture activities."

Management shake-up 

As a starting point, Statoil's existing offshore wind portfolio will constitute its activities in this area. The firm's only commercial wind project in production is the Sheringham Shoal farm in off the east coast of England, and Statoil last year made an investment decision on the nearby Dudgeon facility. 

New Energy Solutions will be led by executive vice president Irene Rummelhoff, formerly head of exploration in Norway for the company.

This announcement comes at a time when the fossil fuel industry is under more pressure than ever to make the shift to renewables. As reported by edie last month, the carbon locked up in coal, oil and gas reserves owned by the world's biggest fossil fuel companies has swollen by 10% in the last five years, despite warnings from the World Bank and others that most existing reserves cannot safely be burned.

The fossil fuel divestment movement is also gathering pace. Thousands have joined rallies across the globe to call on major organisations to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry. 

And the widespread belief among asset managers that divestment hurts the financial performance of investment funds is being proved wrong. Recent analysis by the world's leading stock market index company discovered that investors who have dumped holdings in fossil fuel companies have outperformed those that remain invested in coal, oil and gas over the past five years.

Luke Nicholls


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