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Friday / 24 May 2024
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bp petrol stations kiss load-shedding goodbye

bp Southern Africa (bpSA) will pilot the rollout of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations at four of its filling stations to enable these sites to begin transitioning away from their reliance on the country’s unreliable electricity grid.

In doing so, the energy company will sign power purchase agreements with solar service providers to install, operate, and maintain these grit-tied hybrid facilities over predetermined time periods.

“Once the pilot is successfully completed, we will roll out [the PV installations] to all bpSA-owned sites,” head of communications and external affairs, Hamlet Morule, told Engineering News.

At present, these stations are dependent on expensive diesel generators to keep them up and running during load-shedding and other power failures, which can last for upwards of 12 hours per day and therefore incur large and unnecessary expenses.

Big expansion plans

Combined with the launch of the new solar-powered sites, bp will expand its South African footprint by 15 new filling stations during 2024 followed by another 11 in 2025, which will be primarily situated on major highways and in high-growth metropolitan areas, said Morule.

A minimum of R20 million will be spent per site with the final amount dependent on the size and location thereof, with those situated far away from urban nodes being more expensive to erect than the ones nearby on account of an absence of readily available municipal services and access roads.

bpSA itself will set up a portion of the new filling stations while others will be dealer-owned, in line with the organisation’s hybrid ownership model in South Africa.

Every new filling stop will include convenience stores such as Wild Bean Cafe as well as select services offered by bpSA’s partner brands of Discovery Insure, Nedbank Greenback, Pick n Pay, SA Taxi, and Vodacom.

Despite investing heavily in electric-vehicle charging stations at its international locations, these systems will not be a priority for bpSA in the short term due to the low penetration of battery-electric cars in the domestic market.

“We’ve had a long history in South Africa and have a long-term vision to grow our retail business and to continue supplying fuels and lubricants, while transitioning from being an oil group to playing a role in the energy transition,” said Morule.

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