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Home / case studies / Case study: How BP is expanding its renewables business

Case study: How BP is expanding its renewables business

Renewables have become the fastest-growing energy source in today’s world, expected to provide at least 14 per cent of the global energy mix by 2040. BP has been in the renewables business for over 20 years and is, today, one of the largest operators among its peers  Tweet This!, constantly expanding and exploring new business models.

This case study is based on the 2017 Sustainability Report by BP published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Abstract

BP sees the global transition to a low carbon economy as a key opportunity to expand its business while reducing operational emissions and investing in low carbon technologies. In order to expand its renewables business BP took action to:

  • use biofuels to reduce transport emissions
  • generate biopower
  • invest in solar power
  • produce wind energy

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report BP identified a range of material issues, such as safety, human rights, governance and risk, people and ethics. Among these, expanding its renewables business stands out as a key material issue for BP.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups BP engages with:

Stakeholder Group
Communities
Employees
Governments
Industry associations
Non-governmental organisations
Shareholders and analysts

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics BP met with approximately 100 different organisations, from investors to NGOs and business partners, and also held sessions with its employees.

What actions were taken by BP to expand its renewables business?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report BP reports that it took the following actions for expanding its renewables business:

  • Using biofuels to reduce transport emissions
  • To reduce emissions from transportation, BP produces ethanol from sugar cane in Brazil, as it has life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are 70 per cent lower than conventional transport fuels. In 2017, BP’s three sites produced 776 million litres of ethanol equivalent. In addition, to better connect its ethanol production with Brazil’s main fuels markets, BP partnered with the world’s leading ethanol and sugar trader, Copersucar, to operate a major ethanol storage terminal, located near key transport networks and pipelines. BP’s ethanol production avoided emissions equal to 260,000 fewer European cars on the road in a year.
  • Generating biopower
  • BP creates biopower by burning bagasse, the fibre that remains after crushing sugar cane stalks, and exports approximately 70 per cent of the biopower it generates to the local electricity grid. This is a low carbon power source, as the CO2 emitted from burning bagasse is offset by the CO2 absorbed by sugar cane during its growth. 
  • Investing in solar power
  • BP invested $200m over three years in Lightsource, Europe’s largest solar development company. Lightsource focuses on the acquisition, development and long-term management of large-scale solar projects. Accordingly, BP partnered with Lightsource to lead the solar revolution, driving the further growth of solar energy.
  • Producing wind energy
  • BP is one of the largest wind energy producers in the US, operating 13 sites in seven states and holding an interest in one more facility, in Hawaii. Together, they have a net generating capacity of 1,432MW. The net generating capacity from BP’s portfolio, is enough to power almost 400,000 homes.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 302-1 Energy consumption within the organization

2) Disclosure 302-3 Energy intensity

 

Disclosure 302-1 Energy consumption within the organization corresponds to:

Disclosure 302-3 Energy intensity corresponds to:

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



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References:

1) This case study is based on published information by BP, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to BP: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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