OIL and gas giant BP has increased its investment in the solar energy business after environmental campaigners cast doubt on its claims to be part of the solution to the climate change challenge.

The company said it had made a further investment in Lightsource BP in support of the venture’s ambitious growth drive.

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BP acquired a 43 per cent interest in the London-based venture for $200 million in 2017 in a move that reflected its belief in the potential of solar energy.

The value of the latest investment was not disclosed. It will see BP increase its holding to 50 per cent.

The head of BP’s alternative energy business, Dev Sanyal, said yesterday the group was committed to helping meet the world’s rapidly growing demand for low carbon energy. He noted: “Solar, which is predicted to increase by a factor of 10 by 2040, plays a key role in this energy transition.”

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The group reckons it can use its scale, capability and resources to help Lightsource BP advance worldwide.

The venture has expanded from five to 13 countries and signed major projects across Europe, the Americas and Australia since BP Invested in it.

BP is confident it can play an important role in the development of renewable energy technologies in coming years while continuing to produce oil and gas to help meet growing global demand for power.

On Wednesday lawyers from the environmental campaigning group ClientEarth accused BP of “greenwashing” regarding climate change.

They said: “While BP’s advertising focuses on clean energy, in reality, more than 96% of the company’s annual capital expenditure is on oil and gas.”

BP strongly rejected the suggestion that its advertising is misleading.

The company said investment in areas such as solar energy as well as natural gas and advanced fuels reflected its support for a rapid transition of the world’s energy system and commitment to advancing a low-carbon future.