BP has hired an executive from Danish wind power firm Orsted to head a new offshore wind division as the British energy company restructures its renewable businesses to help drive its transition away from fossil fuels.
Matthias Bausenwein, who stepped down on Jan. 20 as president for Asia Pacific for Orsted, the world's largest offshore wind farm developer, will join BP in the second half of 2022, the British company said in a statement to Reuters.
BP also announced the creation of an onshore wind and solar power unit, with the two new divisions running alongside its existing hydrogen and carbon, capture, usage and storage (CCUS) business as the company's main renewable energy operations.
The creation of the separate divisions follows a rapid growth of BP's wind, solar and low-carbon energy projects over the past year and comes before Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath takes over as head of all BP's low carbon and gas businesses in March.
Over the past year, BP's pipeline of offshore development projects has gone from zero to more than 5 gigawatts (GW) with new wind farms lined up off Britain and the United States.
The hiring of Orsted's Bausenwein is a further sign of how big oil and gas companies are increasingly going head-to-head with existing renewables firms, competing both for staff and market share as the energy transition gathers pace.
Dotzenrath was also brought in from outside BP, having previously been chief executive of Germany's RWE Renewables, another major global player in the offshore wind sector.
"Bringing in leaders of this caliber is a massive vote of confidence in our strategy. And they will help us deliver," BP Chief Executive Bernard Looney said in a statement.
Bausenwein's hiring and the establishment of the new wind and solar divisions both come less than two years after Looney announced a major restructuring of the 112-year old company as part of his energy transition strategy.
BP is aiming to cut its oil production by 40% by 2030 and boost annual investment in low carbon energy to $5 billion by the end of the decade from about $500 million in 2019.
Under the new plan announced on Thursday, Felipe Arbelaez, BP's head of zero-carbon energy who oversaw the recent expansion of its offshore wind activities, will become head of hydrogen and CCUS, two nascent low-carbon technologies BP aims to expand.
David Anderson, senior vice president for renewables growth, will head the new solar and onshore wind unit while Louise Jacobsen Plutt, head of hydrogen and CCUS now, will become global head of procurement.
All three start their new roles on March 1.
Looney's challenge will be to show investors that BP's investments in renewable energy, electric vehicle charging and low-carbon fuels can generate targeted annual returns of 8% to 10% to replace profits from traditional oil and gas operations.
At the same time as slashing its oil output, BP wants to boost its developed renewable energy capacity fast, from 3.6 GW at the end of September to 20 GW by 2025 and 50 GW by 2030.
On Jan. 17, BP and its partner, Germany's EnBW, landed a large offshore project in Britain's North Sea. BP said the 2.9 GW wind farm, big enough to power 3 million homes, would require a total investment of 10 billion pounds ($13 billion).
BP also won an offshore wind licence in the British Irish Sea and has a 50% stake in two large offshore projects on the east coast of the United States, which it is developing with Norway's Equinor.
Bausenwein has extensive experience in offshore wind. Prior to joining Orsted in 2013, he was head of global business development for offshore wind at Germany's Siemens.
($1 = 0.7466 pounds)
(Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by David Clarke)