Today, Shell announced the acquisition of Greenlots, an EV charging solutions company based in Los Angeles.
Greenlots will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the oil giant’s “Shell New Energies US LLC,” an arm of the company which focuses on finding business opportunities in low-carbon energy sources.
Greenlots is not just a charging network themselves, but provides quick chargers and software to manage charging. They attempt to work with site owners to decide on the best charging solutions for the location.
Earlier this month we heard about Greenlots when GM announced a parnership with them, along with ChargePoint and EVgo, to aggregate location and status data and make a more seamless solution for Bolt owners who want to find public chargers.
New York State Thruways use Greenlots for their EV charging infrastructure, and VW’s Electrify America partnered with them to build the platform that operates their network.
Shell isn’t the only oil company getting into the EV charging game. Just last week we reported on Petro Canada installing chargers at their gas stations.
Shell has also made some moves in the EV scene before. Last year, they funded Ample, a startup seeking “a solution for the energy delivery challenge for electric cars.” In the past, they’ve also installed their own charging stations and purchased other charging networks, like NewMotion, a network in Europe with over 30,000 chargers.
But let’s not count Shell as unequivocal allies in the EV sphere yet. Just months ago they joined a lobbying effort to kill the federal EV tax credit in the US, through the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, a group which they are a member of. This is not the only way the oil industry continues to stand in the way of electric vehicle adoption, and Shell cooperates with the oil industry through their participation in their lobbying efforts.
Skepticism is warranted any time an oil company announces a green initiative. While it is nice to see, it’s important to remember the context that oil companies are one of the most destructive forces on our planet in terms of the health of our species and others. Their products cause pollution, high health costs, and death all around the world.
So when oil companies, for example, endorse fuel cell vehicles, some might rejoice in this positive move towards a more efficient technology. Others might realize that since ~95% of hydrogen is produced from natural gas cracking, this could just be a way for the oil industry to co-opt green vehicles and maintain a revenue stream to sell more fossil fuels.
In this case, Shell seems to realize they need a revenue stream to help when the inevitable dropoff in demand for their product happens. But at least in this case, the revenue stream does not necessarily involve more fossil fuel use. If they can manage to start deriving revenue from EV charging, maybe this will set a precedent to show other companies in the energy industry that fossil fuels aren’t the only way to make a profit.
Shell also mentions in their press release that they want to “meet low-carbon energy needs of US drivers.” The company has espoused support for carbon pricing before, an uncharacteristic move for and company whose entire business model is selling hydrocarbons. Perhaps they realize that carbon pricing is a necessary idea, as I’ve written about before. The winds of political change are certainly blowing in the direction of global climate action, even here in the US (the actions of a former reality TV character notwithstanding).
Or maybe this is just all “greenwashing,” where a company which has been so damaging to the environment for so long spends a minuscule portion of their money ($300+ billion revenue per year) to try to make people think they care, while still deriving the vast majority of their business from the destruction of public health and the environment.
It would be reasonable for Shell (and other oil companies) to position themselves in a way that might allow them to survive when humanity weans itself from addiction to fossil fuels. With this investment, and with others in the last few years, Shell does seem to be one of the oil companies taking these changes most seriously. It would still be nice to see them do more, but I can’t complain if they at least attempt to do a little good with their investments, such as this one.
But I’m still rooting for the demise of any industry which has done such untold damage to the world.
What do you think about Shell’s investment? Are they serious, or just greenwashing their image? Let us know in the comments below.
Read the full press release, and its mostly meaningless corporate boilerplate, below:
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Greenlots, a US-based leader in electric vehicle (EV) charging and energy management software and solutions, today announced it has signed an agreement to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Shell New Energies US LLC, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc. With this deal, Greenlots’ technology and team become the foundation for Shell’s continued expansion of electric mobility solutions in North America. Together, the companies will offer best in class software and services that enable large-scale deployment of smart charging infrastructure and integrate efficiently with advanced energy resources like solar, wind and power storage.
“As power and mobility converge, there will be a seismic shift in how people and goods are transported,” said Brett Hauser, Chief Executive Officer of Greenlots. “Electrification will enable a more connected, autonomous and personalized experience. Our technology, backed by the resources, scale and reach of Shell, will accelerate this transition to a future mobility ecosystem that is safer, cleaner and more accessible.”
“As our customers’ needs evolve, we will increasingly offer a range of alternative energy sources, supported by digital technologies, to give people choice and the flexibility, wherever they need to go and whatever they drive,” said Mark Gainsborough, Executive Vice President, New Energies for Shell. “This latest investment in meeting the low-carbon energy needs of US drivers today is part of our wider efforts to make a better tomorrow. It is a step towards making EV charging more accessible and more attractive to utilities, businesses and communities.”
With Shell, Greenlots will intensify its growth efforts and expand its range of mobility services to utilities, cities, automakers, fleets and drivers around the world. Greenlots will retain its brand identity and leadership team.
Greenlots is powering the future of electric transportation with industry-leading software and services that equip drivers, site hosts and network operators to efficiently deploy, manage, and leverage EV charging infrastructure at scale. Our technology brings together cutting-edge network management software, integrated charging optimization, grid balancing services and a driver-friendly mobile app – all in a single platform. Committed to advancing the promise of electrified transportation, Greenlots delivers new mobility infrastructure solutions designed to connect people to their destinations in a safer, cleaner and smarter way. Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, the company has deployed projects in 13 countries around the world. For more information, visit: https://greenlots.com/
About Shell New Energies
Shell established its New Energies division in 2016. Shell New Energies focuses on two main areas: new fuels for transport, such as advanced biofuels and hydrogen; and power, being involved at almost every stage of the process, from generating electricity, to buying and selling it, to supplying it directly to customers. Shell aims to make electricity a significant part of its business. Shell’s New Energies business is seeking to leverage the company’s strengths in fast-growing and commercial parts of the energy industry, including EV charging, and could spend on average between $1-2 billion a year until 2020 on commercial opportunities. For more information, go to https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/new-energies.html