Shell has been a pioneer in developing scenarios to explore the future and deepen its strategic thinking for nearly 50 years. In the 1990s, the company started sharing scenarios externally to contribute to the public dialogue on the collective challenges and choices faced by business, government and society. Over the years I have written many posts that incorporated thinking from Shell Scenarios, with the 2016 publication ‘A Better Life With A Healthy Planet: Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions’ featuring in numerous recent articles. Now, for those interested in the formulation of the Shell scenarios, a behind the scenes look is available through two new publications and an on-line database.

Underpinning the scenario stories is robust modelling and my colleagues in the Shell Scenarios team have now published details of the methodology, explaining how scenarios are quantified, how energy pathways are modeled and how much energy resource could realistically be available. The new materials help to bring further transparency and understanding in the analysis.


The World Energy Model is a core tool in exploring the evolution of energy demand in different countries and in different sectors, helping the scenario developers to maintain system consistency, under varying assumptions in policy, economy, technology and consumer choices. Shell’s World Energy Model is designed to put numbers to long-term scenario stories of the transformation of the energy system, at a detailed country level in a consistent and holistic framework. It can model energy demand “top down” based on consumers’ energy service needs. The model also uniquely charts energy choices of consumers and producers; and covers other key elements like efficiency and prices, and outcomes such as emissions. There are 75 different specific scenario-based inputs spanning six key drivers including population, economic growth, environmental pressures, technology, resources available and people’s choices. It has a large repository of historical data from 1960 on both energy demand and the drivers. It runs in yearly time-steps, as far as 2100 if required.

WEM Structure 2

WEM Structure

Together with Shell’s Global Supply Model, it is possible to coherently examine the impacts in one part of the world made by changes in another. This latter model is a top-down model which allows the company to form its own view of long-term oil and gas production potential. The data is collated from a range of external data providers combined with Shell internal sources and analyses to build a Shell view of future production potential. This also allows analysis of key uncertainties and enables rapid quantification of different production scenarios for strategic studies and for the wider analysis of the global energy system.


The Global Energy Resources (GER) database provides a comprehensive overview of all available primary and renewable energy resources per country. You can access data in the GER and read more about the Shell Energy Models by visiting

Scenarios are part of and ongoing process used in Shell for more than 40 years to challenge executives’ perspectives on the future business environment. They are based on plausible assumptions and quantification and are designed to stretch management thinking and even to consider events that may only be remotely possible.

You know Enphase is committed to providing innovative solar technology with industry-leading equipment, monitoring software, and unmatched reliability. When your system is working perfectly, you may not know it's because we're working behind the scenes to make sure your system is always optimized, and always adjusting to the latest regulations and grid changes.

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Partnering with Utility Companies

The power grid has always been a tricky thing: utility companies have to juggle their enormous power plants, their network of power distribution facilities, and do it all while staying on top of all regulations.

Since solar really arrived on the scene, it's of course been a huge benefit to energy production, sustainability, and people's pocketbooks — but utility companies have struggled to stay on top of all the different power generation facilities, because each home with solar power is a generation facility. Couple all those facilities with a dark, cloudy day, and it gets really hard to monitor and manage the entire grid as effectively and efficiently as possible.

That's why Enphase built smart monitoring devices and software that's always up to date with the latest regulatory changes and performance challenges, while also meeting utility company requirements. We work with your local utility company to set up these processes, and keep in constant contact with them, so that even when they face a new challenge or performance issue, you'll continue to enjoy reliable service.

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Remote Updates

With this equipment and process in place, Enphase can make remote modifications to our microinverters when a local utility company contacts us and requests optimization. And because we're constantly monitoring the devices, we're able to identify areas to improve performance — like making firmware updates to ensure your microinverters are performing just right.

Whether we're responding to a utility company's request or to our own internal monitoring, all updates are pushed to the software system remotely — no sending out a squad of technicians, no problem.

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Prepared for the Future

You might ask: why does this matter to me? At Enphase, we know your solar system is a long-term investment. And we know the utility grid will keep on changing. It'll look different and function differently. We're here to make sure your investment can navigate those changes and operate the right way now and in the future. Remote updates are just one of those things we're doing — whether you notice it or not.

Help in Hawaii:

Take a deeper look at our remote control efforts in Hawaii. Read the article

One of the important changes that needs to take place in the global energy system as it heads towards much lower emissions is electrification. This is the increasing use of electricity as final energy (i.e. the energy we all use to deliver services) rather than fossil fuels, such as natural gas for cooking and gasoline for mobility. According to the IEA, electricity made up nearly 19% of final energy use in 2015, with the bulk of the 81% that isn’t electricity being oil products, natural gas, coal and biomass. The Shell scenario work on a net zero emissions world indicates that electricity should exceed 50% of final energy use.

Over the course of the last few decades, electrification of final energy has moved relatively slowly, at around 2 percentage points per decade (i.e. it was about 16.5% in 2005 and 14.4% in 1995). This rate of change is far below what is necessary to reach 50+% during the second half of the century – in fact, at the current rate it would take over one and half centuries to get above 50%. Therefore, the rate of electrification of the final energy system has to approximately triple over the coming few years for the Paris goals to be approached. At the same time, overall expansion of the energy system also has to be catered for, which might see a near doubling in final energy demand, even as electrification brings considerable efficiency gains.

Chasing Electrification

Today, global electricity production stands at some 25,000 TWh per annum, representing ~19% of final energy demand. The trends described above indicate electricity production rising to at least 100,000 TWh per annum during the second half of the century, or the addition of ~1,400 TWh of generation per annum from now on. The 3.3 GW Hinkley Point nuclear power station being constructed in the UK operating at full capacity for the entire year would add about 29 TWh. The likely progression probably won’t be linear, so good progress would still require some 800-1100 TWh added each year in the near term. That’s still at least 30 Hinckley Point projects brought on line each year.

This new electricity production shouldn’t contribute additional emissions to the atmosphere, so many will look for it to come from wind and solar. Total global generation from wind and solar was around 1,300 TWh in 2016, but the added generation from 2015 to 2016 was 208 TWh (Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy) against total added electricity generation of 600 TWh. Total added generation in recent years has average around 500 TWh, well short of the 800-1100 TWh mentioned above.

Additional solar and wind are not yet close to meeting additional generation needs, although both are rising quickly with additional generation more than doubling over the last six years. That would point to somewhere around 2030 when all new generation needs are being met by additional solar and wind being added to the grid in sufficient quantity for both demand and increasing electrification needs. It also means that emissions from electricity generation globally will only fall in the medium term to the extent that natural gas and nuclear can displace coal. Although coal use is now falling in some economies, it is also increasing rapidly in others as new generation capacity is required for development. Vietnam is one such economy, with several new facilities close to approval.

Electrification of the energy system is a critical driver for change, yet progress today is more mixed than many recognize. Although renewable penetration has been significant in recent years, it must make even more rapid progress in the next decade to bring about material change in the time frames that are being contemplated for net-zero emissions (with some expecting such an outcome by 2050 ). The first electricity grid appeared in New York in September 1882, 135 years ago. Although the technology has spread globally and appears ubiquitous, it still requires significant development and expansion. That will certainly happen, but the time-frame in the context of the Paris Agreement appears uncertain.

Scenarios are part of and ongoing process used in Shell for more than 40 years to challenge executives’ perspectives on the future business environment. They are based on plausible assumptions and quantification and are designed to stretch management thinking and even to consider events that may only be remotely possible.

We're excited to see one of our newest projects hit the market: the Enphase AC Module is a new approach to solar energy that simplifies the equipment and streamlines performance.

In the past, when you had a solar system installed at your home, the installer would bring separate components that would be installed, assembled and connected on your roof.

Now, Enphase is changing all that.

Simpler Design, Simply Better Performance icon

Simpler Design, Simply Better Performance

By combining an Enphase microinverter with a high-quality solar module, we've created an integrated solar unit that streamlines installation, increases reliability, and optimizes performance.

There's no bulky inverter installation, no separate panel connection, and no complex DC wire management — with fewer pieces of equipment and more integration, it allows for a higher-performing system without the need for optimizers or other add-on gear that ups the cost of most systems.

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Tested & True

We've spent years perfecting the technology of the new AC Module, with patent-pending designs and built-in optimization functionality to ensure the equipment performs exactly as it should, and lasts longer than traditional systems.

Get the AC Module

Utility costs are on the rise and the incredible new AC Module is on the horizon. Get started.

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