Where can the world get the energy it needs?

A new tool from the Shell Scenarios Team provides new and unique insights

Those who follow my blog postings will have noted that I regularly use energy data, typically extracted from sources such as the IEA, the US Government EIA and even other energy industry company databases. The data I use is often resource based, such as in my piece, Infinite Solar, a bit over a year ago. Now, that data is available in the new Global Energy Resources (GER) database from the Shell Scenarios team.

This database provides an overview of resource potential across gas, oil, coal and renewable energy types, fossil and non-fossil, including oil, gas, coal, hydro-electricity, biomass and biofuels, geothermal, wind and solar.

A user-friendly interface allows for quick comparisons of data across countries and regions, as well as aggregation regionally and globally. You can access it on computers, tablets and smartphones, and the full database is also downloadable as an Excel spreadsheet.

The underlying data has been compiled using a rigorous research process combining raw data with expert assessment. The oil and gas database was constructed from analysis of external source data. It is supplemented by Shell’s extensive knowledge and technical assessment of sub-surface resource potential.

The renewables database was developed through a collaboration between the Shell Scenarios team and Ecofys, a Navigant company and leading international energy and climate consultancy. It seeks to reflect a realistic assessment of resource potential rather than the perspective of technical potential that commonly characterizes academic literature.  The dominant renewables, wind and solar, were evaluated on a grid-cell basis, providing a detailed analysis spanning the globe.

The GER database underpins energy transition outlooks developed by the Shell Scenarios team. These include our “New Lens Scenarios” (2013) and our recent work, “A Better Life with a Health Planet – Pathways to Net-zero Emissions” (2016).


Our analysis suggests that there is no lack of potential energy resources to support a decent quality of life for the 10 billion people expected to live on the planet towards the end of the century. However, differences in resource distribution will result in local and regional constraints, creating a myriad of energy consumption, production, and international trade patterns. These patterns trigger complex policy and socio-economic choices around the energy transition which will ultimately govern successful (or failed) transitions towards a net zero emissions world.

GER Database

We hope that you find the GER database valuable, whether for quick investigations or for more systematic analyses of this most fundamental pillar of the global energy system, namely the distribution of energy resources across our world.



The Scenarios are a part of an ongoing process used in Shell for 40 years to challenge executives’ perspectives on the future business environment. We base them on plausible assumptions and quantifications, and they are designed to stretch management to consider even events that may only be remotely possible. Scenarios, therefore, are not intended to be predictions of likely future events or outcomes and investors should not rely on them when making an investment decision with regard to Royal Dutch Shell plc securities. It is important to note that Shell’s existing portfolio has been decades in development. While we believe our portfolio is resilient under a wide range of outlooks, including the IEA’s 450 scenario, it includes assets across a spectrum of energy intensities including some with above-average intensity. While we seek to enhance our operations’ average energy intensity through both the development of new projects and divestments, we have no immediate plans to move to a net-zero emissions portfolio over our investment horizon of 10-20 years.
Disclaimer: Scenarios are not intended to be predictions of likely future events or outcomes and investors should not rely on them when making an investment decision with regard to Royal Dutch Shell plc securities. Please read the full cautionary note in www.shell.com/scenarios