BP is back in the solar business. Today (Dec. 15) it announced that it’s investing $200 million into the United Kingdom’s Lightsource, one of Europe’s largest solar development companies. The $200 million stake will represent a 43 percent share of the company, which has developed solar projects across the world, including in the US.
“BP has been committed to advancing lower-carbon energy for over 20 years and we’re excited to be coming back to solar, but in a new and very different way,” said Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive. For instance, it has 13 wind farms in the US and a stake in another in Hawaii.
Still, BP’s relationship with solar has been tempestuous at best. In the late 90’s the company rebranded from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum when it bought US PV-manufacturer Solarex. It created the subsidiary BP Solar but ultimately closed it in 2011.
“While our history in the solar industry was centered on manufacturing panels, Lightsource BP will instead grow value through developing and managing major solar projects around the world,” Dudley said. “I am confident that the combination of Lightsource’s expertise and experience with BP’s relationships and resources will propel this innovative business to even more rapid growth.”
Under the new agreement Lightsource, which has brought 1.3 gigawatts of solar online and manages 2GWs, will become Lightsource BP and BP is making an initial $50 million investment upon completion of the agreement and will make the remaining investments over the next three years. BP said the agreement will combine Lightsource’s solar development and management with BP’s global scale to help fund Lightsource’s global expansion, which is focussed on the US, India, Europe and the Middle East.
“We founded Lightsource to lead the solar revolution and chose to partner with BP because, like us, their ambition is to build and grow this company for the long-term,” said Nick Boyle, Lightsource Group CEO and founder. “Not only does this partnership make strategic sense, but our combined forces will be part of accelerating the low-carbon transition. Solar power is the fastest growing source of new energy and we are excited to be at the forefront of this development.”
“We see significant opportunity to offer affordable, reliable, low-carbon power solutions by integrating solar alongside our existing alternative energy and gas business. We see Lightsource as a strategic partner with a similar vision and, with the benefits of BP’s global scale and relationships, we together plan to build the global market leader for solar,” said Dev Sanyal, BP’s chief executive for Alternative Energy.
Indeed, BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy found that in 2016 the amount of installed solar energy increased by 30 percent across the world and the global solar power capacity has more than tripled in the past four years. Looking forward the company anticipated that solar could provide a third of the world’s total renewable energy and up to 10 percent of its total energy production by 2035.Tweet