Lightsource bp has increase the size of its global solar portfolio six fold to 25GW by 2025, including a quadrupling of its Australian portfolio to 2GW over the same time frame.
The announcement came as Lightsource bp, the joint venture between the UK solar company Lightsource and the global oil giant BP, landed a $1.8 billion revolving credit and trade finance facility to help fuel that growth.
“Lightsource bp’s global commitment to “25GW of solar by 2025” is great news for the Australian renewable energy market,” Australian country manager Adam Pegg said in a statement.
“With solar power continuing to be the fastest growing source of energy globally, Lightsource bp’s activity in Australia will be driven through the global funding package, enabling it to double its generation target to 2GW by 2025.”
The company currently only has one operating project in Australia, the 200MW Wellington solar farm in western NSW, although it recently completed a $330 million financing package for two others, the 90MW West Wyalong solar farm in NSW and the 176MW Woolooga solar farm in Queensland that are under construction.
It also has a 400MW (dc) Wellington North solar farm “under development”, but Pegg would not reveal what other projects were in the pipeline to be built in the next three years to meet the new target.
“Increasing solar energy generation in Australia is essential to our transition to a lower carbon future, with the urgency required to actively address the global climate emergency,” Pegg said in his statement.
“To put this in context, within the next three years, our Australian solar projects will contribute 2GW in clean energy, the equivalent to powering 603,379 Australian homes and carbon saving equivalent to taking 1,394,329 cars off the roads in Australia.”
RenewEconomy asked Pegg about battery storage, given that hardly any solar project is announced these days without the caveat that it is “battery ready”, or will have storage built alongside it.
“We are keeping a close eye on the reducing costs of battery storage as we see this as a natural fit for solar projects,” Pegg said. “We also have planning approval for most of our solar sites to add storage.”
Globally, Lightsource bp also secured in June a 9GW solar portfolio in the US in the biggest ever transaction of its type. Up till now, it has only developed 3.8GW of large scale solar, but the scale of its ambition over the next four years is extraordinary.
“Globally, renewable energy is shifting from a mindset of gigawatts to terawatts,” said Nick Boyle, who founded Lightsource in 2010 and now heads the joint venture.
“Investments are being made by the billion, not the million. And big companies like Amazon, McDonald’s and eBay are switching to clean energy. This trend proves that renewables are mainstream and solar is playing a key role in addressing the climate crisis.
“If we’re going to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement — business as usual isn’t going to cut it. Our industry-leading 25GW by 2025 target and the finance package are further proof that Lightsource bp has left business as usual far behind.
“We know our plans for growth and job creation are very ambitious, but this is the pace of change we need to move at.”
Dev Sanyal, bp’s executive vice president of gas and low carbon, said Lightsource bp had developed more than 30 projects, which have consistently delivered 8 to 10% returns.
“So when people ask if we really have the capability to deliver the returns we talk about, the answer couldn’t be clearer – yes, we can because we are. Lightsource bp continues to deliver and it continues to grow. And quite frankly we love it – because it works.”