BP Alternative Energy Targets $1 Billion Photovoltaics Revenue by 2008

December 11, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

BP Alternative Energy will build on the success of BP Solar that projects photovoltaics (PV) revenues of $1 billion in 2008, and will manage an investment program in solar, wind, hydrogen and combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power generation. BP will double its investment in renewable energies to create a low-carbon power business with a growth potential to deliver $6 billion a year within the next decade.

"Consistent with our strategy, we are determined to add to the choice of available energies for a world concerned about the environment, and we believe we can do so in a way that will yield robust returns," says chief executive Lord Browne of Madingley. "Our recent experience, particularly with solar, has given us the expertise and confidence to develop new products and markets alongside our mainstream business."

"We are now at a point where we have sufficient new technologies and sound commercial opportunities within our reach to build a significant and sustainable business in alternative and renewable energy," he explains. "We are focusing our investment in alternatives and renewables on power generation because it accounts for over 40% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, the biggest single source. It is also the area where technology can be applied most cost-effectively to reduce emissions."

The first phase of investment will be $1.8 billion over the next three years, spread equally between solar, wind, hydrogen and CCGT. Investments will be incremental, and will depend on the nature of opportunities and their profitability.

The investment in PV will boost BP's position as a supplier of solar electric systems. It currently has 10% of the global market, which is growing at 30% per year, faster than wind energy because technology improvements and higher productivity are reducing costs.

BP has 100 MW of PV manufacturing capacity in the United States, Spain, India and Australia, and will double its capacity within a year. It recently signed a strategic joint venture to access China's expanding solar market and provide local manufacturing capacity, and is exploring similar opportunities elsewhere in the region.

"As the pricing of carbon develops through trading schemes and other initiatives, the market will grow rapidly as low-emission technologies displace less clean forms of power generation," says Browne.

The investment in wind represents "a significant step up in this area of power generation" as the company has two windfarms located near existing oil plants in the Netherlands. It owns appropriately-zoned remote sites in high-wind regions of the U.S. which could become its first large-scale 200 MW windfarm by 2007. It has also identified sufficient sites in the U.S. to locate turbines with total capacity of 2,000 MW.

BP Alternative Energy will be based in Sunbury, Middlesex (UK) and initially will employ 2,500 people around the world. Its investment in hydrogen fuels will include the world's first commercial project in Scotland to convert natural gas into hydrogen by stripping out CO2 and pumping it into depleted oil reservoirs, providing a power station 350 MW of ‘clean electricity.' The investment in CCGT will be in the U.S. where BP is finalizing plans for a $400 million project that will deliver 100 MW of power to the plant, and 420 MW to the local grid.