Oil Giant BP Increases Stake in Solar Developer Lightsource

British oil and gas supermajor BP announced it will increase its stake in solar developer Lightsource BP in an effort to help accelerate the company’s growth and its ambitions to develop 10GW of renewable energy assets by the end of 2023.

Lightsource was founded in 2010 as Lightsource Renewable Energy and built itself up as one of Europe’s leading solar developers. In December of 2017 the company announced that they would join with BP to form a strategic partnership which would combine Lightsource’s solar development and management expertise with BP’s global scale.

BP acquired a 43% equity share in Lightsource for a total consideration of $200 million, to be paid over three years, and the company was renamed Lightsource BP. It has recently financed its first major project in Australia, a 200MW solar project near Wellington, which has now begun construction.

“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 in 2017.

“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.”

In the two years since BP and Lightsource joined forces, Lightsource BP has expanded its footprint from five to thirteen countries and has now signed major projects across Europe, the Americas, and Australia, building a development pipeline in excess of 12GW.

Fast-forward nearly two years to the day and BP and Lightsource BP have announced that BP will increase its share of the company to a simplified 50:50 joint venture structure. BP will purchase newly-issued equity in the business and become an equal partner in the business with the balance of shares continuing to be held by management and staff.

Importantly, because new shares are being issued in this transaction, BP’s investment will be immediately available to the company – however the specific details of the transaction are not beign released.

“When we first announced this partnership two years ago, we made our mission very clear – that together we want to accelerate the growth of solar power worldwide and help drive the solar revolution,” said Boyle this week.

“Although we have already made huge strides forward in both the size and number of our projects and have rapidly expanded our global footprint, there is still so much more we can do together.”

“BP is committed to helping meet the world’s rapidly growing demand for low carbon energy,” added Dev Sanyal, CEO of Alternative Energy, BP.

“Solar, which is predicted to increase by a factor of 10 by 2040, plays a key role in this energy transition. That is why we want to invest more in Lightsource BP and to deepen our partnership. We want to advance the solar energy business worldwide and we can bring scale, capability and resources to make that happen. We are proud to be advancing solar alongside such a dynamic partner.”

The news came less than a week after BP made headlines on its own by signing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with cloud computing megalith Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide at least 170 MW, and as much as 400 MW, to AWS’s European data centres.

The deal, beginning in 2021, will see BP begin to supply AWS’s servers in Europe with 170MW of renewable power each year, and expects to increase this capacity to in excess of 400MW.

The first project announced under this new PPA agreement will see BP providing AWS with 122 MW of new renewable capacity from an unnamed onshore wind farm being built in Västernorrland, Sweden, but which BP claims is “one of the largest onshore windfarms being built in Europe.” 50 MW from a new Spanish solar farm will round out the first stage of the newly-signed PPA.

“BP and AWS are both targeting reductions in emissions from their respective operations,” said Robert Lawson, chief operating officer for Global Gas at BP Supply and Trading.

“One way BP can play an important role in helping our customers is by using our trading capability and scale to deliver innovative, reliable and flexible supplies of low-carbon and renewable power to major corporate customers and partners.”

Source: RenewEconomy

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