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Alternative energy

We have been investing in renewables for many years – and our focus today is on biofuels, biopower, wind energy and solar energy
Alternative energy
Alternative energy text

Renewables are the fastest-growing energy source in the world today and we estimate that they could provide at least 15% of the global energy mix by 2040.


As part of our approach to building our alternative energy business, we aim to grow our existing businesses and to develop new businesses and partnerships to deliver competitive value in the fastest-growing energy sector.


Solar energy

Solar could generate 12% of total global power by 2040, in a scenario based on recent trends. That could grow to 21% in a scenario consistent with the Paris climate goals.


We have a 43% share in Lightsource BP and plan to invest $200 million over a three-year period. Lightsource BP aims to play a vital role in shaping the future of global energy delivery by developing substantial solar capacity around the world, and we are working with Lightsource BP to expand its global presence.

Lightsource BP is a global market leader in the development, acquisition and long-term management of large-scale solar projects and smart energy solutions


We believe that biofuels offer one of the best large-scale solutions to reduce emissions in the transportation system.


We produce ethanol from sugar cane in Brazil, which has life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions around 70% lower than conventional transport fuels. In 2018 our three sites produced 765 million litres of ethanol equivalent.


Brazil is one of the world’s largest markets for ethanol fuel. In order to better connect our ethanol production with the country’s main fuels markets, we established a joint venture in 2018 with Copersucar – one of the world’s leading ethanol and sugar traders. This includes operating a major ethanol storage terminal in Brazil’s main fuels distribution hub.


Our Tropical and Ituiutaba biofuels sites are certified to Bonsucro, an independent standard for sustainable sugar cane production. We are working towards certification for Itumbiara in 2019.


Our strategy is enabled by: 

  • Safe and reliable operations – continuing to drive improvements in safety performance.
  • Driving quality and improved efficiency in our feedstock – concentrating our efforts in Brazil, which has one of the most cost-competitive biofuel sources in the world.
  • Domestic and international markets – selling ethanol and sugar domestically in Brazil and to international markets such as the US. 

Renewable products

Butamax®, our 50/50 joint venture with DuPont, has developed technology that converts sugars from corn into bio-isobutanol, an energy-rich bio product. Bio-isobutanol has a wide variety of applications. For example, it can be used in the production of paints, coatings and lubricant components. It can also be blended with gasoline at higher concentrations than ethanol, which can be transported through existing fuel pipelines and infrastructure. Butamax® has upgraded its ethanol facility in Kansas to produce bio-isobutanol.



We create biopower from bagasse, the fibre that remains after crushing sugar cane stalks. In 2018 our three biofuels manufacturing facilities produced around 892GWh of electricity – enough renewable energy to power all of these sites, with the remaining 70% exported to the local electricity grid.


This is a low carbon power source, with part of the CO2 emitted from burning bagasse offset by the CO2 absorbed by sugar cane during its growth.


Wind energy

BP has significant interests in onshore wind energy in the US. We operate nine sites in six states and hold an interest in another facility in Hawaii. Together they have a net generating capacity of just over 1,000MW.


At our Titan 1 wind energy site in South Dakota, we’ve partnered with Tesla to test how effectively wind energy can be stored.


In 2018 and 2019 we divested our wind energy operations in Texas, as part of a broader restructuring programme designed to optimize our US wind portfolio for long-term growth.

Using technology in biofuels

Our SmartLog programme is helping improve performance  across our three biofuels sites in Brazil. SmartLog is designed to increase efficiency across sugar cane cutting, loading and transportation operations – and consequently reduces the costs involved. Every day across our sites we make around 800 trips covering 45,000 kilometres. This takes place in remote locations with poor network and communications coverage. Using a combination of mobile satellite technology, sensors and radios we can connect our people and  their vehicles to a central control room. Here we receive 24-hour real-time information about what’s happening in the field to help manage activities remotely, as well as monitoring and analysing behaviours and giving advice or intervening about safety or efficiency.


Automation guides workers on improvements such as how to prioritize harvest activities and indicates the optimum speed for harvesters to run at based on prevailing conditions.


Since introducing SmartLog in 2018, we’ve reduced equipment needed by 20% and our remote monitoring is helping to reinforce our safety culture in the field. It has also helped to lower emissions as the reduction in equipment means we use less diesel.

Using technology in biofuels