BP Amoco is to power 200 new petrol filling stations with solar energy, it announced yesterday. In what it claims is the biggest ever project of its kind, the oil company will install up to 400 solar panels on canopies above pumps at sites in eleven countries, including the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. The power will be used for station lighting and petrol pump operation, with surplus electricity exported to local electricity networks during the day and drawn from them for night-time operation. The stations, to be built over the next two years with the solar units fitted at a cost of $50m (euros 46.4m), will be net electricity generators where favourable climatic conditions permit. A spokesman said all subsequent new stations would be solar-powered as a matter of course and existing stations would be considered for retrofitting with the panels. The total installed capacity in the 200 stations will be 3.5 megawatts, which the company says will make it one of the world's largest solar users and save around 3,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Earlier this month BP strengthened its stake in solar power by buying the remaining 50% share it did not own in US solar company Solarex for $45m (euros 41.8m). Yesterday's announcement follows a move by oil company Shell last month to install solar panels at petrol stations in Germany and the Netherlands (ENDS Daily 4 March).
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