Greenpeace bids to push Shell toward solar

NGO buys euros 227,000 of shares in oil giant, winning right to lobby other shareholders

Greenpeace Netherlands has bought euros 227,000 worth of shares in energy giant Shell in a bid to persuade the company to invest in a solar panel "mega-factory". The group said today that it was using new Amsterdam stock exchange rules allowing it to contact other shareholders and lobby them to support the move. It claimed this was the first time the rules, introduced two years ago, had been used.

The group has asked fellow shareholders to support a proposal for Shell to build a plant manufacturing 5m photovoltaic cells annually. Such a facility would have 50 times the capacity of Shell's new German plant opened last year (ENDS Daily 17 November 1999) and 100 times that of the firm's Dutch plant. Shell launched a renewable energy business in 1997 (ENDS Daily 16 October 1997).

Shell says building such a large factory would be too risky, while Greenpeace claims an independent report by consultant KPMG shows it would give a 15% return on investment. Campaigner Karl Mallon said only a "market impasse" stood in the way of solar development and that the economies of scale would allow Shell to overcome them.

Greenpeace says no profit will be made on the shares and that it will sell them immediately after a shareholders' meeting considers its proposal. It says similar moves in the UK and USA have forced oil company BP Amoco to table a debate on a controversial Arctic oil pipeline project at its annual general meeting next month.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace Netherlands, tel: +31 20 422 3344, Greenpeace press release and "Help Shell" web site, which includes the KPMG report.

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