To mark our 10-year anniversary, our Group CEO Nick Boyle, founder of Lightsource bp, shared his thoughts on the past decade and the future on LinkedIn. To find out more about Nick, and his Lightsource bp experience, read his story.
Making light work – 10 years of solar success
This month, our business becomes ten years old. 2010 still feels like yesterday to me, when six of us gathered in the corner of a London office and look at us now, 14 countries and counting! Most of the ‘day one’ recruits are still with the company, having built great careers themselves and are now part of a 500 strong diverse global team.
As an entrepreneur with a background in financial services, I banked on the predictability of solar from the start. Now, a decade later, the simple but logical business case is still the same – solar offers a long-dated, predictable, revenue stream that is attractive to investors. The sun goes up, the sun goes down each day, creating very predictable returns. And if the sun doesn’t come up, we’ve all got much bigger things to worry about!
Clearly, a 10-year milestone is a good point to reflect a little. Thinking back, I can see two pivotal moments, or rather decisions, in our history that steered our course toward success.
The first one and probably the earliest strategic decision we ever made – putting finance first. While most solar developers were driving around the UK looking for land, I was walking around the City of London looking for investment. I believed then as I still believe now that there are more investors in the world that want a definite 8-10% return than a “maybe” 15%. We secured backing from Octopus Investments, a UK leader in retail finance, and this decision enabled us to deliver many of England’s first utility scale solar projects in 2011.
The second, our partnership with bp, which started late 2017. We had already built a successful business, but we wanted to do so much more. We chose oil & gas because they know energy, they have global reach and financial strength, but most importantly they were ready for solar. The inflection point had arrived, solar was now cheap enough to rival many forms of energy generation and was being deployed at scale. We chose bp because they really understood what we had built, and we were aligned in purpose and vision for solar. Adding those two letters (bp) to our name hasn’t changed how we do business, but it’s certainly changed how and why people do business with us.
Transforming a UK business into a global leader has been no easy feat, but with the support of our partner bp, we’ve been able to utilise our skillsets, build on our groundwork and put some real pace and scale into motion. We’ve grown our development pipeline from 1.6GW to 16GW in just 3 years. In 2011, our largest sites were 5MW (35 acres) and now our largest project in development is 550MW over two sites (that’s almost 4000 acres). And, I truly believe, the best is yet to come.
We’ve realised a lot of potential as Lightsource, and even exceeded expectations in our industry, but the last 3 years have shown that there really is no limit to what the Lightsource/bp partnership can achieve. The global energy landscape is rapidly decarbonizing, there’s so much opportunity in future innovation, and that’s what gets me excited. Not where we are now but the potential of tomorrow.
So, 10 years on, and solar now officially crowned the cheapest form of electricity in history, I’m still singing the same tune, predictability is an attractive investment and solar is good business. Here’s to the next 10!
What we’re working on…
Find out more about our global projects, and take a look at what we’ve been building in 2020!