BP returns to solar

3 January 2018

BP has made a $200 million investment in Lightsource in a bid to return to the solar energy sector it abandoned six years ago.

The oil giant has taken a 43 per cent stake in Lightsource, Europe’s largest solar energy development company, and says that the two companies will join forces to acquire, develop and manage large-scale solar projects.

BP established a solar photovoltaic manufacturing business in 1981 but exited the business in 2011 due to competition from rival Chinese manufacturers. It says that its global scale, coupled with Lightsource’s solar development and management expertise, will enable the partnership to “drive further growth across the world”.

“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,” Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive said. “While our history in the solar industry was centred on manufacturing panels, Lightsource BP will instead grow value through developing and managing major solar projects around the world.

“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.”

Global installed solar generating capacity more than tripled in the past four years and grew by over 30 per cent in 2016 alone, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy. BP’s Energy Outlook analysis sees solar as likely to generate around a third of the world’s total renewable power and up to 10 per cent of total global power by 2035.

“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, Group CEO and founder of Lightsource. “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.”

Lightsource will rebrand as Lightsource BP. The $200 million investment will be paid over three years and will largely fund Lightsource’s worldwide growth pipeline.

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