BP’s ambition to have 50GW of renewables on its books by 2030 is “realistic and achievable”, insisted CEO Bernard Looney, who cited the profitable growth of its Lightsource BP solar joint venture as evidence the oil supermajor can succeed in clean energy.

Looney said the target – up from 2.5GW of renewable energy capacity today – should be seen in the context of a massive increase in global wind and solar capacity, which BP’s latest forecast said could be adding an average of up to 550GW between them annually over the next 15 years.

The 50GW target was unveiled by BP in August as part of a wide-ranging transformation plan under Looney, who is priming the company for a 40% reduction in oil & gas production.

BP already has a renewables portfolio of 20GW, and the Lightsource BP JV alone boasts a 16GW pipeline at various stages of development, up from just 1.6GW in 2018, said Looney.

He said the 17 projects Lightsource BP has delivered since 2018 had delivered returns in the 8-10% range that BP is targeting for a wider stable of renewable energy projects that will span wind, PV and bioenergy.

“We actually believe we can do better, and these returns may turn out to be conservative,” Looney told a global audience as part of BP’s presentation of its new strategy to the capital markets.

According to Looney the UK-based major can maximise returns from renewables projects by leveraging its project management capabilities, operational experience and synergies with the wider BP business, for example energy trading.

More partnerships

Formation of partnerships will be at the heart of BP’s strategy, said Looney, who added that the energy industry could expect to see BP forging more links of the type announced last week with Equinor that saw it make a dramatic entry to the offshore wind sector, taking a half-share of two projects in the US.

“We’re now entering offshore wind, which is growing faster than any other source of renewable energy,” said Looney, who hailed Equinor as “a world-class offshore wind company.

“They’ve been at it a decade. I think they’re clearly seen as the top one or two in offshore wind.”

The BP chief added that as the group pursues its global renewables ambitions “you can expect to see more partnerships for sure, some acquisitions, but I don’t think acquisitions at a mega-scale.”

Sign up for our new energy-transition newsletter

Green is the new black. Get the market insight you need into the global oil and gas industry's energy transition from Accelerate, the new newsletter from Upstream and Recharge. Sign up here