Lightsource BP – the solar developer 50% owned by UK supermajor BP – announced a more than doubling in growth ambitions backed by a $1.8 billion finance package.

London-based Lightsource BP now wants to develop 25 gigawatts of projects by 2025, upping a previous goal of 10GW by 2023 and building on a photovoltaic expansion spree over the last 18 months that has already seen it make rapid inroads in Europe and the US.

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News of the new goal came as the developer said it had secured a $1.8 billion revolving credit and trade finance facility to underpin the expansion, which the company's chief executive of Europe and International, Kareen Boutonnat, earlier told Upstream sister publication Recharge will also be widened to Asia.

Lightsource BP group chief executive Nick Boyle said: “Globally, renewable energy is shifting from a mindset of gigawatts to terawatts. Investments are being made by the billion, not the million. And big companies like Amazon, McDonald’s and eBay are switching to clean energy. This trend proves that renewables are mainstream and solar is playing a key role in addressing the climate crisis.

“If we’re going to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement, business as usual isn’t going to cut it. Our industry-leading 25GW by 2025 target and the finance package are further proof that Lightsource BP has left business as usual far behind.”

Lightsource BP has already developed 3.8GW of projects, which it defines as past financial close or construction-ready.

Its expanded growth plans come as PV is increasingly tipped by analysts as the biggest winner of the energy transition, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) dubbing it 'King Solar' because of its potential dominance of the renewables era.

'Execution machine'

The growth of Lightsource BP’s pipeline and its ability to drive projects through with targeted returns has earned the joint venture the label of “execution machine” from BP group chief executive Bernard Looney, who regularly cites its success as the model for the supermajor’s wider foray into sectors such as offshore wind.

A spokesperson for BP said its own group goals of 20GW net of renewable assets by 2025 and 50GW by 2030 are unchanged by the Lightsource BP announcement. Separately to its own pipeline, the joint venture is developing a 9GW US portfolio on behalf of BP.

BP executive vice president of gas and low carbon Dev Sanyal Photo: BP Photo: BP

BP executive vice president of gas and low carbon Dev Sanyal said: “In the four years since we formed Lightsource BP, it has tripled its footprint and doubled its workforce. The speed and breadth of that expansion is testament to the power of this partnership and what an integrated energy company with global reach brings to the table. Couple that with the drive and delivery of Lightsource and that’s where the magic happens.

“Lightsource BP has developed more than 30 projects, which today have consistently delivered 8 to 10% returns. So, when people ask if we really have the capability to deliver the returns we talk about, the answer couldn’t be clearer – yes, we can because we are.”

Lightsource BP Australia country manager, Adam Pegg, said Monday the global funding package would see the company double its solar generation target Down Under to 2GW by 2025.

“Increasing solar energy generation in Australia is essential to our transition to a lower carbon future, with the urgency required to actively address the global climate emergency," Pegg said.

"To put this in context, within the next three years, our Australian solar projects will contribute 2GW in clean energy, the equivalent to powering 603,379 Australian homes and carbon saving equivalent to taking 1,394,329 cars off the roads in Australia.”

(This article first appeared in Upstream's renewable energy sister publication Recharge on 20 September, 2021, and includes additional reporting by Upstream.)