Looking into the rest of the 21st century with Shell scenarios

Shell Oil published a set of future energy scenarios.

Two of them are older ones.  Scramble describes a global energy panic.  Blueprints assumes stronger governmental planning and control.

Two Shell scenarios in mid-stream.

Seeing how Scramble and Blueprint play out.

Shell also released two new ones:


The first scenario, labelled “mountains”, sees a strong role for government and the introduction of firm and far-reaching policy measures. These help to develop more compact cities and transform the global transport network. New policies unlock plentiful natural gas resources – making it the largest global energy source by the 2030s – and accelerate carbon capture and storage technology, supporting a cleaner energy system.


The second scenario, which we call “oceans”, describes a more prosperous and volatile world. Energy demand surges, due to strong economic growth. Power is more widely distributed and governments take longer to agree major decisions. Market forces rather than policies shape the energy system: oil and coal remain part of the energy mix but renewable energy also grows. By the 2060s solar becomes the world’s largest energy source.

The pdf document breaks these down in great detail: new resource plays, impacts on cities, etc.

The scenario document describes new methods (or “Lenses”) for producing such narratives, Paradox, Pathway, Panorama.  For example, the “Prosperity Paradox”:

Economic development is raising living standards for hundreds of millions of people. But it also imposes
environmental, resource, financial, political, and social stresses that can undermine some of the benefits of

Pathways are ways to imagine big-picture, society-level transition.  Shell focuses on two,

ROOM TO MANOEUVRE Financial, social, political or technological capital encourage early action and result in effective change/reform.

TRAPPED TRANSITION Financial, social, political or technological capacity prove inadequate to withstand stresses. Behavioural responses delay change, causing conditions to worsen until ultimately a reset is forced or a collapse occurs.

Visualized like so:

Two opposing Pathways.

Two opposing Pathways.

A powerful, accessible read for anyone interested in futures, geopolitics, and/or energy.

(cross-posted to Scanning the Future)

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1 Response to Looking into the rest of the 21st century with Shell scenarios

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