Published: Sat, December 16, 2017
Finance | By Loren Pratt

BP to return to solar market with 43% stake in Lightsource

BP to return to solar market with 43% stake in Lightsource

Oil giant BP has reignited its interest in the solar market with the announcement today of a $200m investment in United Kingdom developer Lightsource.

The British oil giant has backed out of previous projects in recent years but will now flow investment into Lightsource over the next three years, eventually obtaining 43% of the company.

It will be renamed Lightsource BP and BP will have two seats on its Board of Directors.

"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", Dudley said in a statement.

Two decades ago, BP had set out to transcend oil, adopting a sunburst logo to convey its plans to pour US$8 billion over a decade into renewable technologies, even promising to power its gas stations with the sun.

It has earmarked up to £30 million for a broader partnership with Lightsource for a total of up to 300MW of solar projects.

It forms the first investment BP has made into photovoltaics since it unceremoniously shuttered its BP Solar in 2011 following years of sales and factory closures.

The company will also continue to develop and deliver the 6GW growth pipeline of Lightsource, which is mostly focused in the US, India, Europe and the Middle East. BP's Energy Outlook analysis expects solar energy to generate around one third of the world's total renewable power and up to 10 per cent of total global power by 2035. "We see growth in terms of return, cash delivery and profitability", Sanyal told Reuters.

Nick Boyle, founder and group CEO of Lightsource, said the partnership with BP would help accelerate the low carbon transition.

BP will pay US$50 million when the deal is completed, with the balance paid in instalments over three years, it said.

That transformation - marketed as "Beyond Petroleum" - led to BP manufacturing solar panels in Australia, Spain and the USA, and erecting wind farms in the U.S. and the Netherlands. Completion of the agreement is expected in early 2018. With over 70,000 employees and activities in more than 70 countries, BP finds, produces and transports oil and natural gas; trades oil, gas, products and power; manufactures and markets fuels, lubricants and petrochemicals; and produces renewable energy through its wind, biopower and biofuels businesses.

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