Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to cut back drastically on its renewables investment has raised a storm of protest from environmental activists who have accused it of abandoning its much-advertised Green credentials.

Shell is somewhat sensitive on this issue, pointing out that it is retaining its 550 MW of wind farm capacity and is heavily involved in carbon capture technlogy, ana rea more suited to its main areas of competence.

In its official statement Shell says merely that its doesn’t expect wind, solar and hydrogen to grow much in the company’s portfolio, due to bad portfolio fit and the returns outlook compared to other opportunities. Wind and solar it says continue to struggle to compete with the other investment opportunities even with substantial subsidies in many markets.

Its subsurface capabilities and R&D programmes in the capture and storage of CO2 can add value to efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from its other activities, says Shell, pointing out that it has made progress with several potential projects, including one in Canada, where it is taking part in the Weyburn-Midale CO2 monitoring and storage project; and in Germany where the first injection of CO2 was carried out in June 2008 at the CO2SINK project – the first European scientific project to demonstrate onshore CO2 storage in a saline aquifer. Shell is developing a project for the capture and storage of pure CO2, a waste product from the Shell Pernis refinery, into two depleted gasfields in Barendrecht, and a decision about the go ahead of this project could be taken in 2009.