Alternative energy

We have the largest operated renewables business among our oil and gas peers

Renewables will play an increasingly important role in a lower carbon future. They are projected to grow seven times faster than all other energy types combined. Today, they account for around 3% of global energy demand, excluding large-scale hydroelectricity.

We have been producing renewable energy for more than a decade. Our strategy is to invest where we can build commercially viable businesses at scale. With a focus on biofuels and wind, we have the largest operated renewables business among our oil and gas peers. This means that we are directly managing these businesses – from manufacturing biofuels from sugar cane feedstock to generating and distributing wind energy.

We are also evaluating other areas where we can grow our involvement in lower carbon opportunities, particularly where they may play a role in complementing existing businesses such as natural gas.

Biofuels business model and strategy

Biofuels can help reduce emissions from transportation, the fourth largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today. They can be used in existing cars and infrastructure without major changes. We are working to produce biofuels that are low cost, low carbon, scalable and competitive without subsidies.

Our main activity is in Brazil where we operate three bioethanol sites with a combined nameplate capacity of 10 million tonnes per year. We also export power made from sugar cane waste to the local grid. We use our expertise and technology capabilities to drive continuing improvements in operational efficiency.

Our strategy is enabled by

  • Safe and reliable operations – continuing to drive improvements in personal, process and transport safety
  • Competitive sourcing – concentrating our efforts in Brazil, which has one of the most cost-competitive biofuel feedstocks currently available in the world
  • Low carbon – producing bioethanol supported by low carbon power generated from burning sugar cane waste. These processes reduce life cycle GHG emissions by around 70% compared with gasoline
  • Domestic and international markets – selling bioethanol domestically in Brazil and also to international markets such as the US and Europe through our integrated supply and trading function.

Our Tropical site achieved the Bonsucro certification for sustainability, legal compliance and production processes for the fourth consecutive year.

We produced 733 million litres of ethanol equivalent and generated 562GWh of power for Brazil’s national grid.

We continue to invest in the development and commercialization of biobutanol, in conjunction with our partner, DuPont. Compared with other biofuels, biobutanol has the potential to be blended with fuels in higher proportions and be easier to transport, store and manage. We are also investigating a number of chemical applications for this advanced biofuel.


In Brazil, our mills are powered fully by renewable energy. Not only does Sugarcane’s high yield allow it to produce significant amounts of ethanol but also the residue from the sugarcane – known as bagasse – is recovered and used as feedstock for the mill’s cogeneration unit to produce steam and power for the mill.

Surplus power is exported to the grid, forming an important part of Brazil’s power mix. The generating capacity of our biopower facilities is 224 MW of which 70% of our power generation is exported to the grid.


We are among the top wind energy producers in the US. At 31 December 2016, we directly operated 14 wind farms across eight US states, while holding an interest in a separate facility in Hawaii. Our net generating capacity from this portfolio, based on our financial stake was 1,452MW of electricity.

Our net share of US wind generation for 2016 was 4,389GWh.

BP also runs one wind farm at our refinery sites in the Netherlands, operating on a much smaller scale and managed by our Downstream segment, with 22.5MW of generating capacity.

Safety remains our number one priority and a number of sites achieved safety milestones in 2016. For example, Silver Star and Titan both achieved seven years without a recordable injury, and Fowler 1 and 3 have received awards from Vestas – a leading wind turbine manufacturer – for ‘best overall balanced scorecard’, which includes metrics for safety and availability.

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BP’s Energy Outlook analysis sees solar as likely to generate around a third of the world’s total renewable power and up to 10% of total global power by 2035. 

In December 2017 we agreed to form a strategic partnership with Lightsource to drive growth in solar power development worldwide. The company will be renamed Lightsource BP.

Lightsource is a global leader in the development, acquisition and long-term management of large-scale solar projects and smart energy solutions worldwide.  It has grown in just seven years to become Europe’s largest developer and operator of utility-scale solar projects. The company has commissioned 1.3 GW of solar capacity to date and manages approximately 2GW of capacity under long-term operations and maintenance contracts - the equivalent of powering over half a million homes through clean energy.

Lightsource BP will target the growing demand for large-scale solar projects worldwide with a focus on grid-connected plants and corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed with private companies. The company will continue to develop and deliver Lightsource’s 6GW growth pipeline, which is largely focused in the US, India, Europe and the Middle East.

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