Global energy provider Shell is using Microsoft Azure-based high-performance computing (HPC) to reduce its carbon footprint and explore alternative fuels. The technology enables the global energy provider to run the massive calculations required for a project of this size, while maximising its agility and cost-effectiveness.
Shell is aiming to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in line with the UN Paris Agreement on climate change. To achieve this, it is working to reduce emissions from its operations and from its customers’ use of its fuels, by storing remaining emissions using technology or balancing them with offsets.
“We needed HPC expertise to support the massive calculations involved and to scale them for real system sizes,” says Suchismita Sanyal, general manager of computational sciences at Shell. “We especially wanted cloud-based HPC to maximise our agility and cost-effectiveness. We could get this expertise and resources from Microsoft. That’s why we forged an alliance with Microsoft Consulting Services.”
Working with Microsoft Consulting Services, Shell developed its digital imaging rendering and compute solution (DIRAC) on Azure. This solution enables Shell to create predictive models for corrosion on pipelines, for example, enabling better preventive maintenance and minimising potential leaks. According to Microsoft, DIRAC analysis also helps improve lubricants, resulting in better automobile mileage, energy efficiency, and sustainability.
“With DIRAC exploiting Azure Batch, we can access enormous HPC power whenever we need it, and then decommission it,” said Majeed Shaik, product owner for DIRAC at Shell. “Because that’s hugely cost-effective, we can conduct five times as many calculations as we could with captive hardware, without the time and expense of acquiring it.”