BP explores buying solar energy to power operations in U.S.

By Brian Eckhouse and Kelly Gilblom on 3/19/2019

SAN DIEGO and LONDON (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc may become the next oil giant to power operations with clean energy.

The London-based company is in talks with a solar developer it partially owns, Lightsource BP, to buy power in the U.S., according to executives at the renewable company. A contract may be signed within six months, Lightsource BP CCO Katherine Ryzhaya said.

“It’s a no brainer for them to play in solar,” Ryzhaya said in an interview Tuesday at Infocast’s Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego. “They’re doing it for financial reasons.”

BP didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. In 2017, the oil giant said it would invest $200 million in Lightsource BP over three years for a 43% stake.

Oil majors are turning to wind and solar to run their operations as clean energy becomes cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels. Exxon Mobil Corp. last year agreed to contracts to buy 500 megawatts of solar and wind power in in the Permian Basin, the fastest growing U.S. oilfield. More recently, Petroleum Development Oman said it signed a deal to buy solar on the Arabian peninsula.

“It was only a matter of time before the oil companies started signing deals,” BloombergNEF analyst Kyle Harrison said in an email.

Buying solar power could help BP achieve its goal of growing without increasing its carbon footprint. Earlier this year, the company agreed to better disclose how its business aligns with the Paris climate accord after coming under pressure from shareholders.

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