BP’s joint solar venture Lightsource BP to more than double expansion by 2025

Deal worth £1.3bn means operation will develop enough solar farms to power equivalent of 8.4m homes

BP’s joint solar venture, Lightsource BP, will more than double its global expansion by 2025 after clinching a financing deal worth $1.8bn (£1.3bn) to develop enough solar farms to power the equivalent of 8.4m homes.

The fast-growing operation had initially set a target to develop arrays of panels with a total capacity of 10 gigawatts by 2023, enough for almost 3.4m homes, but the fresh funds will be used to turbocharge its ambition to 25GW by 2025.

It also plans to build an extra 9GW of solar farms exclusively for the oil corporation as part of BP’s plan to grow its renewable energy capacity 20 fold by the end of the decade.

BP has set one of the most ambitious renewable energy goals for a major oil company as governments prepare to ramp up climate action. The current global gas market crunch has further strengthened the political resolve to reduce the reliance on gas.

Solar power could help to cut the amount of gas used to run power plants during the summer months. It could also produce green hydrogen, which can be stored and used in place of gas throughout the year.

Lightsource BP’s founder and chief executive, Nick Boyle, told the Guardian that the future of the solar industry would be driven by demand for green hydrogen – extracted from water using renewable electricity – to replace gas in power plants, factories and transport.

“Hydrogen could be shipped around the world as an energy source, which essentially came from the sun but is captured as a gas, and burned the same way as historic hydrocarbons,” he said.

Dev Sanyal, the head of BP’s low carbon business, described Lightsource BP’s $1.8bn solar boom as “a big acceleration for a company which has been leading the energy transition”.

Lightsource was founded by Boyle in 2010. He agreed to sell BP a stake in the company seven years later – turning it into Lightsource BP – in the hope of growing its 1.6GW solar business more than six-fold by 2023.

Sanyal said: “In the four years since we formed Lightsource BP, it has tripled its footprint and doubled its workforce. The speed and breadth of that expansion is testament to the power of this partnership.”

The venture is expected to create over 500 new jobs within the company over the next four years and expand its global footprint across 15 countries. Sanyal, who will leave BP at the end of the year, said the work of Lightsource “plays into the strategy” of the oil company to invest in “high value” renewable energy projects.

“Lightsource BP has developed more than 30 projects, which today have consistently delivered 8% to 10% returns. So when people ask if we really have the capability to deliver the returns we talk about, the answer couldn’t be clearer – yes, we can because we are,” Sanyal said. “And quite frankly we love it – because it works.”

Boyle added: “Globally, renewable energy is shifting from a mindset of gigawatts to terawatts. Investments are being made by the billion, not the million. And big companies like Amazon, McDonald’s and eBay are switching to clean energy. This trend proves that renewables are mainstream and solar is playing a key role in addressing the climate crisis.”

Contributor

Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘The potential for solar is huge’: future looks bright for Lightsource BP
Founder Nick Boyle explains how Lightsource will help power one of the biggest ever corporate transformations

Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent

20, Sep, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
BP returns to solar power with $200m stake in Lightsource
Tie-up with Europe’s biggest solar developer will focus on alternative energy projects in US, India and Middle East

Adam Vaughan

15, Dec, 2017 @2:18 PM

Article image
BP boosts stake in solar firm amid clean energy plan for its offices
Oil and gas firm will buy new shares from startup Lighthouse BP for undisclosed price

Jillian Ambrose

05, Dec, 2019 @6:12 PM

Article image
Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP
Annual energy forecast predicts record surge in wind, solar and other renewables

Adam Vaughan

14, Feb, 2019 @2:49 PM

Article image
BP enjoys share bounce after unveiling plans to shift away from fossil fuels
Despite reporting one of its worst quarterly results on record BP shares closed up 6.5%

Jillian Ambrose

04, Aug, 2020 @4:45 PM

Article image
BP takes $1.1bn stake in offshore wind farms as it agrees Equinor deal
Strategic partnership will seek to develop more wind farms off the coast of the US

Jillian Ambrose

10, Sep, 2020 @9:08 AM

Article image
'Lightweight PR and greenwash' – BP's low-carbon plan dismissed
Environmentalists call strategy ‘20th century response to a 21st century problem’

Adam Vaughan

16, Apr, 2018 @1:20 PM

Article image
BP buys string of US solar farms for £155m in clean energy drive
Projects to be developed across 12 states by Lightsource BP will be capable of powering 1.7m homes

Jillian Ambrose Energy correspondent

01, Jun, 2021 @5:11 PM

Article image
Future BP dividend hikes will test investor commitment to its green plan
If the price of oil rises further, the firm’s move away from oil and gas output will fuel doubts

Nils Pratley

03, Aug, 2021 @7:01 PM

Article image
BP's dividend cut puts firm on road to deliver green energy pledge
Lockdown has hammered oil prices but it also offers a chance to refocus on clean energy

Larry Elliott

04, Aug, 2020 @6:09 PM