BP Solar

BP Solar

In 1981 British Petroleum and Lucas Industries formed a joint company, Lucas BP Solar Systems Ltd based in Haddenham, Bucks., to develop and market solar power systems.The company specialised in solar PV applications for which other energy systems offered no practical alternative including communications, transport signaling and civil-engineering projects in remote locations.

One of the first major projects was Britain's first grid-linked solar power station completed in 1983. This was on CEGB’s Marchwood Power Station close to Southampton. It had a capacity of 30 kWp, took 10-months to build and was comprised of 1,200 25W panels, each costing~ £900 (£33/Wp) and having an efficiency of 9%.

The company became wholly owned by BP in the mid-1980s. In 1999, BP acquired Amoco who in turn owned Solarex with a solar plant in the US, and by 2004 the company had become the world's leading PV producer with a 20 percent world market share, designing, manufacturing and marketing solar electric systems for the residential, business and government markets.

BP Solar Film from 1990

At its peak, the company had facilities in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia and performed installations in over 160 countries. However, the 2000s saw an influx of low-cost solar panel products from Asian countries which started chipping away at BP’s dominance in the solar power market. With the financial crisis of 2009 weighing on its bottom line, the company finally closed in 2011 after years of dwindling international investments in its facilities.

Wind & Sun become BP Solar Distributor

Wind & Sun was originally located near Oxford and in 1985 sourced our first 17Wp PV panel from a company in Abingdon who assembled panels for marine applications using BP Solar cells.

From this we discovered the BP Solar factory in Aylesbury where the PV cells and modules were being manufactured and assembled into systems for remote commercial power and rural electrification applications.

At the time, BP Solar didn't envisage that there would be any demand for such products in the UK, but were happy to sell Steve panels which he collected from the factory door. We found customers for these - and kept returning for more panels.

Over the years the market grew, BP Solar grew and relocated to Madrid in Spain and Wind & Sun became UK authorised distributor in 1993.

This continued until 2012 when BP exited the the solar industry.
Over this time we pioneered many new applications for the technology, established a UK residential grid connect solar market and built up a nationwide network of BP Solar installers.