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Quantifying renewable resources

BP has played a central role in creating a new way for reserves and resources of renewable energy to be assessed on a like-for-like basis with fossil fuels
Sugar cane harvesting

We worked with the UN, industry, academia and other organizations to extend the UN Framework Classification for Resources used to assess petroleum and minerals to include renewables.


This will enable companies to make plans in which renewable and fossil fuel resources are considered on a similar measure – barrels of oil equivalent. This also helps investors assess organizations and for governments and other agencies to develop an overall view of a country or region’s energy resources.


The framework takes account of the technical and commercial maturity, as well as the social and environmental impact of renewables projects and their expected recoverability, in a comparable way to fossil fuel resources. This is possible because – although renewables are potentially infinite – the energy obtained from renewable projects is governed by a similar range of technical and economic factors as for conventional resources.


BP led the development of the resource classification for bioenergy and we are one of the first companies to test it for a real-world project in our Brazilian biofuels business. Using this classification, we have estimated that the commercial1 bioenergy resources for our three Brazilian sugarcane ethanol plants2 is 187.0 mmboe3 4 of cumulative ethanol and power production that goes to the market over the expected asset lifetimes.5


There is the potential to see some further upside through additional projects and further efficiency improvements. For example we estimate volumes could be increased by over 25% if sugar and non-sales volume of power were converted into saleable bioenergy products.


The assessment demonstrates the potential that renewable energy has in contributing to the energy resource base, as well as providing useful insights for opportunities to further extend the commercial resource base.

The work done by BP in testing the framework for bioenergy resources in Brazil marks an important milestone in attaining sustainable energy production and consumption, as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Scott Foster,director, Sustainable Energy, UN Economic Commission for Europe

1   UNFC classification: E1, F1, G1 + G2, where E1 refers to the highest classification under the socio-economic viability axis; F1 refers to the highest classification under the project feasibility axis, and G1 +G2 refers to best estimates of quantities recovered or produced.
2   BP’s 3 Brazilian sugarcane ethanol plants, Tropical, Ituiutaba, and Itumbiara.
3   Million barrels of oil equivalent. Conversion of hydrous ethanol to boe: 1 bblethanol = 0.564 boe based on relative ethanol and crude lower heating values, assuming hydrous ethanol water content of 5%v/v. Conversion of power to boe: 1 GWhe = 1666 boe based on thermal generation efficiency equivalence considering a modern power station operating at 38% efficiency.
4   The assessment is based on ethanol and power price assumptions consistent with BP’s long-term crude planning assumptions, expected processing rates, availabilities and conversion efficiencies, and the best estimate of sugarcane ethanol plant lifetimes consistent with planned maintenance/sustain capex spend and the expected asset economic lifetime as achieved generally the sector.
5   This classification corresponds to the Society of Petroleum Engineers proved plus probable category (2P) commonly referred to as the best estimate of the petroleum resources. This is included for the purposes of comparison only.