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BP keen on solar trading synergies as it sets Lightsource on global growth trail

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BP has said the Lightsource solar business it acquired a 43% stake in last week would be “massively complementary” to its existing alternative energy division.

Last Friday (15 December 2017) BP announced that it is to pay US$200 million (£148 million) for a minority stake in prolific UK-based solar developer Lightsource in a deal which will see the entity renamed as Lightsource BP.

The deal will see BP make a sensational return to the solar sector after a six-year hiatus and fund Lightsource’s international growth strategy over three years, helping it deploy solar in markets like Europe, the US, India and beyond.

But speaking to Clean Energy News, the head of BP’s alternative energy business Dev Sanyal said the company saw synergies beyond solar development with its new partner.

BP Alternative Energy previously had interests in wind, biopower, biofuels and gas and Sanyal said Lightsource’s solar expertise and experience would add another dimension to it.

“We also think there’s a massive complementary in terms of part-trading and electricity provision, so those are some obvious areas for synergies,” Sanyal said.

He also teased that the company expected further synergies to become known in the coming months as the partnership developed further.

“It's about bringing together complementary skills and abilities to create not just a great solar company, but a great solar company which operates on a global platform. That's what we're trying to do and we believe the partnership element is really important. It's bringing together the best of both companies,” he added.

Meanwhile Lightsource chief exec Nick Boyle revealed that the BP partnership would extend into other facets of Lightsource’s business and not just utility-scale solar development.

BP will also take an interest in Lightsource Labs, the Palo Alto-based technology and software innovation arm Lightsource established last year. BP will too be looking towards Sunplug, the home solar-plus-storage offering Lightsource has developed in collaboration with EDF, as a further point of attention.

Boyle said that not much would change in the day-to-day business activities of Lightsource but he hoped the deal would “supercharge” its ambitions.

“Clearly we've had significant success in Europe but we realised in order to deliver our business model to a wider international audience that we would have to supercharge it in some way,” he added. 

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