Renewable Energy

Energy from renewable sources like the sun, wind or water produces no carbon emissions, but is still much more expensive to produce than energy from hydrocarbons

We're determined to build a sustainable solar business that's both profitable and environmentally beneficial.

Solar cell production has grown by around 30% annually over the past five years and cumulative world production is now more than 3,000 megawatts (MW). This still represents a small proportion of the energy used worldwide. For example, the total growth in solar capacity worldwide in 2004 was around 800MW †equal to the output of two average gas fired turbine power generators.

A profitable solar business

BP Solar made a profit for the first time in 2004 and increased global sales of solar capacity by more than 30%. Our revenues rose from $307m in 2003 to over $400 and we are aiming for similar growth rates in 2005.

This has been achieved following the reshaping our business over the past two years. During this time we've lowered costs, focused on key growth markets (particularly the US and Germany), concentrated on our most successful products and mounted high-profile marketing campaigns. Our productivity has improved too, following a worldwide 'Lean Manufacturing' initiative. We now have a strong base from which to grow and in 2004 announced plans to double our capacity from around 90MW to 200MW by 2006.

During 2004 we opened a 4MW solar farm †one of the largest in the world †near Merseburg in Germany. The farm supplies enough power to meet the needs of 1,000 four-person households. We also continued to explore the potential of Building Integrated PV (BiPV) systems, which are constructed as integral parts of buildings. In the UK, for example, we have a partnership with Romag, a leading manufacturer of BiPV. In California, one of our key markets, our Solar Home Solutions package is now more widely available than ever, thanks to a tie-in with the home improvement company The Home Depot. And in Europe, the Real Power campaign, has promoted Saturn 7 †a product that guarantees improved performance for customers.
Looking forward, our focus will be on providing 'on-grid' installations in key markets, but we also continue to undertake 'off-grid' projects in developing countries.

Wind power

It's estimated that an average growth rate of almost 25% per annum could be achieved for electricity derived from wind power by 2012. This would result in a 30-fold increase from 1996 levels - underlining the fact that this renewable energy source has enormous potential. Our efforts are focused on the development of 'wind farms' at existing BP refineries and petrochemical sites, many of which are in suitably exposed locations and can offer opportunities to blend new wind facilities into already industrialised landscapes.

In 2004, our jointly owned 22.5 megawatt wind farm near Rotterdam, in The Netherlands, completed its first full year of commercial operation and provided sufficient clean electricity to power 20,000 typical Dutch homes and displace some 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. We are currently examining the feasibility of developing similar projects at our other, selected sites in Europe and elsewhere.

Attestation note

The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2004 sustainability reporting.