Solar electricity will help power all new service stations to be built in the UK, Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, Portugal and Spain. Solar installations will also be incorporated into prototype sites in France and the US as part of an extended pilot programme.

The first phase of the two-year programme will see up to 400 solar panels installed on each station canopy at some 200 service stations across eleven countries in a $50 million, 3.5megawatt project, saving around 3,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

At each site, the solar panels on the canopy will generate more energy than is consumed by the site’s lighting needs and the power requirements of the pumps below. Each solar installation will have a maximum power output of 20kWp – more than eight times the size of a domestic system supplying the electricity needs of an energy-efficient home.

There are 17,900 BP-branded retail sites throughout the world, of which 6,500 are owned by the company. In the US there is a network of 9,300 of Amoco-branded retail stations. The target countries have been chosen for a number of reasons, including the ease of connecting to the national electricity transmission systems, industry infrastructure and light levels.

The installations, which will be connected to the local electricity networks, will allow any excess electricity to be exported during the day and the shortfall imported at night.

The company says the scheme will make it one of the largest producers of solar photovoltaic cells in the world, and it one of the largest single users of solar power.

A 40kW solar system will also be installed at three new office buildings as part of the redevelopment of BP’s site at Sunbury, UK. BP is also sponsoring rural solar electricity projects in Africa and South America.

BP Amoco recently announced that it had invested a further $45 million in solar power with the purchase of the 50 per cent share of Solarex which it did not already own.

BP Amoco has announced a pilot emissions trading programme and has set a target to reduce its global greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent below 1990 baseline levels by 2010. In February it announced the provision of ultra-low sulphur diesel at service stations throughout the UK and a ‘clean cities’ programme to supply a range of cleaner fuels to 40 cities throughout the world.

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