BP Solar Panels: History, Closure & Alternatives

Here’s what we’ll cover about BP Solar:

  • What was BP Solar? 
  • Does BP Solar still sell panels? 
  • BP Solar lawsuit
  • BP Solar panel alternatives
Ecowatch Author Karsten Neumeister

By Karsten Neumeister

Updated 6/27/2022

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It might surprise most readers to learn that BP, the oil and gas giant, operated a solar power subsidiary that was once one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1981, it even had a head start on most of the current leading solar manufacturers, which were founded in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

BP Solar had an opportunity to lead the clean energy transition decades before most other companies. So what happened to the company that made it close its doors in 2011?1 And what alternatives are around today? You can click below to start exploring your options, or read on to learn more about BP.

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Jump To: What Was BP Solar? | Does BP Solar Still Sell Solar Panels? | What Happened to BP Solar?| BP Solar Panel Alternatives

What Was BP Solar?

BP Solar was at one point one of the largest manufacturers of solar energy technology in the world and stayed in business for 40 years. It was a key part of BP’s alternative energy business, manufacturing various aspects of solar systems including solar cells, panels, charge controllers and inverters. At its peak, the company had facilities in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia and performed installations in over 160 countries.2 

The company finally closed in 2011 after years of dwindling international investments in its facilities. 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 market. With the financial crisis of 2009 weighing on its bottom line, the rest of BP Solar eventually folded. 

The sole remaining presence of BP in the solar industry is the share it maintains in Lightsource BP, a global company developing and managing solar projects.3 It has a major presence in Europe. BP’s share in renewable energy worldwide exists mostly through its projects in wind power.4

BP Solar Fast Facts
Year Founded 1981
Year of Closure 2011
U.S. Headquarters Houston, TX5
Manufacturing Facilities Frederick, MD6

Does BP Solar Still Sell Solar Panels?

BP Solar closed up shop in 2011 and no longer sells solar modules. There may still be some BP solar panels in circulation, but the technology behind these modules is over a decade old, rendering them nearly obsolete. 

The most recent PV modules that BP Solar manufactured were made with polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar cells, with its most powerful mono modules maxing out at about 280 watts (W) and 13% efficiency.7 If you can find BP solar panels on the market, their approximately 250 watt power ratings make them feasible only for off-grid or other small-scale purposes. 

Although BP Solar is no longer in business, BP still honors its warranties. Check out this video for a closer look at BP solar panels. 

BP Solar Lawsuit

In 2016, a few years after the company’s closure, a class-action lawsuit against BP Solar claiming its panels were defective ended in a settlement. 

A line of solar panels manufactured between 1999 and 2007 with an S-type junction box (“Class Panels”) were ruled to be prone to a high failure rate. These failures could cause burn marks at the junction box, shattered glass and pose a potential fire hazard.

According to official reports, the settlement generally includes anyone in the U.S. who purchased the panels for installation on a property or purchased a property on which they had already been installed and still own some or all of those panels.8

BP Solar Panel Alternatives

If you’re looking for high-quality alternatives to BP solar panels, consider a few of the following modules for residential grid-tied installations.

Manufacturer Current Panel Efficiency Power Rating
Qcells Q.PEAK DUO ML-G10+ 20.9% 405 W
SunPower SunPower M-Series 22.0% 425 W
Silfab Silfab Elite Series 21.4% 380 W
Panasonic Panasonic Evervolt Black Series 21.2% 370 W

The best way to figure out which type of solar panel is best for your installation is to consult with a solar company near you. To find a world-class provider in your area, you can visit our page on the best solar installation companies

Karsten Neumeister is a solar energy specialist passionate about sustainable development, environmental and cultural change. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

Blog author image

Karsten Neumeister

Solar Expert

Karsten Neumeister is a solar energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the renewable energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on solar energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.