Image: BP Plc.

Image: BP Plc.

BP has said the promising “fundamentals” behind the current global solar market triggered it to re-enter and the petrol giant now has ambitious plans for worldwide growth.

Earlier today BP announced that it is to pay US$200 million for a 43% stake in prolific UK solar developer Lightsource to establish a new partnership.

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.

However BP has an appetite for solar once more and, speaking to PV-Tech, BP Alternative Energy chief executive Dev Sanyal said the fundamental factors behind solar were key.

Lightsource and BP had been locked in discussions for several months before today but Sanyal said BP had been keeping a watching brief on solar PV for much longer.

“From our vantage point we'd been looking at the developments in the solar energy industry for some years now, and effectively what we are seeing are fundamentals that are really important.

“Growth around 10-15% per annum, we've seen trebling of solar installed capacity over the last four years. And you see business models that are actually now being developed and are in place that are very attractive,” he said.

The task is now to identify which markets the partnership – Lightsource is to be rebranded as Lightsource BP – will target. Lightsource has most recently entered into the Australian and Dutch PV markets to complement its existing interests in the US and India, but Lightsource chief executive Nick Boyle says this could soon grow further.

There is, however, a more cautious approach with Lightsource keen to avoid the mistakes of one formerly prolific solar developers in particular.

“One of the big plusses for us is BP are pushing toward 100 markets worldwide. it would be easy for us to get all excited and think 'let's open up in all those markets', but SunEdison did that before and from our perspective it's about being able to sit back and have the maturity of knowing which are the next best markets to add to our list,” Boyle said. 

Tags: pv modules, bp, lightsource, investment, india, us, netherlands