British Petroleum (BP) has purchased a 43% interest in Lightsource Renewable Energy for U.S. $200 million. Lightsource Renewable Energy is the largest solar energy generator in the United Kingdom. Lightsource Renewable Energy was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in London. BP is also pursuing other avenues in renewable energy, including reducing carbon emissions in manufacturing and expanding bio-mass operations, such as biofuels.
BP’s acquisition is not the first “big oil” company that has entered renewable energy. Supermajors Royal Dutch Shell and Total have made major investments in offshore wind projects and solar-panel production over the past few years. Statoil, the large Norwegian oil company has made major investments in offshore wind projects and battery storage technology. Danish Oil and Natural Gas (DONG) has recently changed the company name to Ørsted to reflect a dramatic change in corporate strategy. In 2016, Ørsted sold all of the company’s fossil fuel assets (coal, oil and natural gas) and is investing solely in renewable energy projects. The Danish company is reportedly pursuing offshore wind farm projects off the coasts of New Jersey and Virginia.
In my opinion, this move by big oil companies will only help accelerate the advance of renewable energy. These companies are very experienced in the planning and implementation of large, capital projects costing billions of dollars. Also, these companies have extensive experience in offshore oil and gas operations in water depths exceeding 5,000 feet.