Ways to Save the Planet: Transforming an Energy Giant

Fletcher School alumnus Dev Sanyal helps steer BP beyond oil and gas to renewable energy sources
Illustration of renewable types of energy, such as wind power. Fletcher School alumnus Dev Sanyal helps steer BP beyond oil and gas to renewable energy sources
“Of all the sources of energy, renewables are predicted to grow the fastest over the next twenty years,” Dev Sanyal said. Illustration: Kasia Bogdanska
August 29, 2019

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With global temperatures rising and the clock ticking, Fletcher School experts the world over are developing new ways to save the planet. For a series on climate change solutions, Tufts Now talked with several Fletcher alumni about their efforts. Read about charging extra to drive in congested cities, activating the states, investing in cooling, saving swamps, and making car charging free.

We start with Dev Sanyal, F88, who’s working to steer energy giants beyond oil and gas.

More than twenty years ago, BP was the first major oil company to recognize climate change and become an early investor in renewable energy. Today, the company is accelerating its efforts in the transition to cleaner energy and a low-carbon future.  

Dev SanyalBP aims “to be at the core of meeting the dual challenge: meeting the world’s increasing energy demands and doing so in a way that is cleaner and with fewer emissions,” said Dev Sanyal, F88, the chief executive officer of BP’s alternative energy business, executive vice president for regions, and a member of the BP group executive committee. 

BP’s approach, Sanyal said, emphasizes three goals:

Reducing emissions. Last year, BP committed to zero net growth in operational emissions to 2025, even as it increases its global oil and gas production. Some 36,000 managers at BP have their cash bonuses linked to performance on emissions reduction goals. In March, the company launched a $100 million fund for emissions-reduction projects within its operations. It has partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund to develop new methods to reduce methane emissions. BP also co-founded the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a collaboration between major industry players to reduce the carbon and methane impact of oil and gas operations.

Improving products. BP is providing cleaner, more efficient fuels to help customers reduce their emissions, Sanyal said. For example, recycled cooking oil is blended with hydrocarbon jet fuel to create a lower-carbon fuel called BP Biojet, sold to customers in Norway, Sweden, and the United States.

Creating new businesses. BP is active in the renewable energy sector, a business that Sanyal has headed since 2016. BP has operations in biofuels, biopower, renewable products, wind energy, and, through a 43 percent shareholding in Europe’s largest solar company, Lightsource BP, a growing solar energy business. “Of all the sources of energy, renewables are predicted to grow the fastest over the next twenty years,” Sanyal said. “Our focus is to be at the heart of this exciting growth story.”

Heather Stephenson can be reached at heather.stephenson@tufts.edu.