Greenpeace expands pro-solar campaign by buying shares in Shell

Greenpeace has extended its campaign to force the oil industry to invest in alternative energy by buying 500,000 Dutch Guilders (Euros 250,000) worth of shares in Royal Dutch Shell.

Greenpeace wants to present its proposal for a mega-solar factory at the upcoming Shell Annual General Meeting (AGM) on May 9, with the support of fellow-shareholders. The environmental NGO also intends to launch a similar plan at BP Amoco’s AGM on April 13.

Greenpeace’s campaign has been boosted by the publication of a report which shows that the construction of one large-scale solar PV factory could enable solar energy to become competitive with conventional electricity.

Greenpeace will now send proposals to fellow Shell shareholders asking for support to build a large-scale solar factory. A similar shareholder motion will be put to the BP Amoco AGM next month. Last year, a group of 100 British and US shareholders with more than 150,000 shares forced BP’s Arctic Ocean exploration plans on to the company’s AGM meeting agenda by submitting a formal resolution opposing BP’s Northstar oil pipeline project. The motion also calls for the capital freed up from Arctic projects to be spent on expanding BP’s solar subsidiary, Solarex.

Greenpeace campaigner Sander van Egmond is optimistic about the campaign’s chances of success. “We have a good opportunity to put pressure on Shell,” Egmond told edie. He believes that if campaigners are successful against BP, there is a good chance of that influencing the outcome in Holland. “These companies are competitors so success would influence their policy. This is part of Greenpeace’s general strategy against oil companies. If it turns out to be an effective instrument, we might use it against other oil companies or other industries.”

According to a report conducted by accountants KPMG for Greenpeace, solar energy could compete with conventional electricity if the oil companies built one large-scale solar PV factory. The report, Solar Energy from Perennial Promise to Competitive Alternative, says that a factory producing five million solar panels a year (equivalent to 250,000 homes, each with a 2kW system) could cause the cost of solar power to fall by a factor of four making its price competitive for domestic consumers.

“The KPMG report demonstrates there are no major technological or financial barriers to creating a large scale solar PV industry. However, there is market impasse,” said Greenpeace renewable energy campaigner Karl Mallon in a statement.

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