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Advancing energy – news roundup

Release date: 28 January 2020

Hello, here’s your first monthly round-up in 2020 of
what BP is doing to help make energy cleaner and better

900 words – around four minutes’ reading time

1. Giving a boost to energy efficiency in China

BP Ventures has invested $3.6 million in Chinese AI (artificial intelligence) tech company R&B, which specializes in energy management systems that can predict, control and improve energy use in buildings. 


What does that mean?


  • Intelligent software picks through data points to allow building managers to cut carbon emissions by optimizing energy use and anticipating maintenance issues.  


Why it matters


Energy efficiency is one way of cutting emissions, with buildings currently accounting for one-third of the world’s total energy consumption.


Meanwhile, China accounted for nearly a quarter of global energy consumption in 2018.




This builds BP Ventures’ push into AI and energy management after investing in UK start-up Grid Edge last year. 


“BP is determined to help meet society’s demands for more energy, delivered in new and cleaner ways. Our investment in R&B, a business developing and deploying innovative technology to improve energy efficiency, is fully aligned with this strategy.”


Dev Sanyal, BP Alternative Energy chief executive and executive vice president, regions

2. Tech trends to watch
Energy illustrated – electric cars

A new year means new predictions, and our experts have been busy looking at the technologies at the forefront of the energy transition.


Top-five set to take off:


  • Wind turbines offshore could reach heights of more than 300 metres (as tall as the Shard in London) to access powerful winds for greater power generation.
  • Solar costs are now tumbling thanks to rapid technological improvements. That could mean thinner, cheaper silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) panels become commonplace.
  • Green hydrogen electrolysis technology, which uses renewable power to split water from hydrogen, could play a big part in global decarbonization. 
  • Electric mobility for more people with costs likely to reach parity with traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2025, supported by better lithium ion battery technology.
  • Cognitive computing – the most sophisticated form of artificial intelligence (AI), which mimics human reasoning, has been used in NASA deep space missions and is now used for more earthly applications, such as in the formulation of lubricants that can keep mechanical parts running smoothly and efficiently.


To find out more about the technologies and BP’s work in this area, read our feature.

3. Problem plastic waste gets personal
BP's Gordon Birrell

Rita Griffin, BP’s COO of petrochemicals, talks to BP Magazine about her mission to help divert plastics from landfill through BP Infinia technology.

  • It’s all part of BP’s support for a circular economy, where materials are reused over and over, as opposed to the linear economy of make-use-throw away. 


What it means to Rita: 


“There was a day not long ago when I was taking my daughter to school and we were talking about the problem of plastics in our oceans. Then in the afternoon, I was talking to our technologists about what our technology can deliver. It was a pivotal moment for me to realize that we could actually help solve this plastics waste problem that we hear and care about so much.” 




  • BP Infinia technology can process difficult-to-recycle, often coloured, PET plastic waste and transform it back into new, virgin-quality feedstocks for plastic.
  • Plans are under way to construct a $25 million pilot plant in Naperville in the US that is expected to be operational in late-2020. This is to prove the technology on a continuous basis and move a step closer to commercialization.
  • We are joining forces with leading firms across the polyester value chain to accelerate commercialization of our BP Infinia technology.


Get the full story from Rita in her interview with BP Magazine.

4. Video: Natural gas in the energy transition

CNN’s Global Energy Challenge series, supported by BP, looks at some of the innovative ways the world is meeting growing demand for energy, while addressing the rise in carbon emissions. The latest episode, produced by CNN, is a short feature looking at how natural gas working alongside renewables can help to meet energy demand across the globe.


Around the world:


In under three minutes, CNN’s business and emerging markets editor, John Defterios, highlights why natural gas has an important part to play, given: 

  • Switching between coal and gas in the power sector globally over the past eight years has accounted for about 500 million tonnes of reductions in CO2.
  • China and India, which together account for about two-thirds of global coal consumption, which if switched for natural gas could make a ‘tremendous’ impact on emission reductions. 


Learn more in the full film (a 2.5-minute watch).

5. Podcast: Hydrogen key to Paris goals
Speakers at BP's powering the charge conference

If the world is serious about achieving the Paris goals, it is going to need to have hydrogen as part of the energy system.


That’s the view of BP’s head of technology, David Eyton, as he and other experts discuss the role of hydrogen in a low carbon energy future in the latest episode of our Technology Outlook podcast series.


It also features a panel of industry experts, including Professor Nigel Brandon from Imperial College London.


There’s more


The podcast series explores the most exciting technologies helping to transform our energy system to lower carbon, with episodes on batteries and solar featuring so far.

Thanks for reading, see you next month for more on how BP is advancing energy. 


Words by Paul Saville

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