BP-Amoco increases solar power investments

Oil giant BP-Amoco has stepped up its investment in the solar sector by buying out Enron`s stake in an Amoco-Enron joint venture and announcing plans to incorporate solar power at its service stations worldwide.

BP Amoco is to purchase a 50 per cent stake in Solarex, a US solar company, from Enron for $45m. The buyout will create the largest solar company in the world – BP Solarex – which will build on the current activities of Solarex and BP Solar. It will have annual revenues of over $150m and a 20 per cent share in the global market.

The move is part of BP`s wider aim of making solar power a larger contributor to the energy mix of the 21st century. It recently announced that it would install solar power to help meet the power needs of all new gasoline service stations to be built in the Netherlands, UK, Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Portugal and Spain. This two-year project will see up to 400 solar panels installed in the first phase, representing a $50m investment and 3.5 MW of capacity. BP Amoco estimates that the project will save 3500 t of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

BP Solarex will have manufacturing operations in the USA, Spain, Australia and India, producing 30 MW of solar products per year. It will have a strong position in leading-edge solar technology, particularly in the new generation of thin films. BP-Amoco said that the acquisition is a significant step towards meeting a target of building a $1bn solar business over the next decade.