Developing renewable energies

Total Nuevas Energias solar power plants - Sunpower Centrale Solaire Total Nuevas Energias Chile - Sunpower

For Total, contributing to the development of renewable energies is as much a strategic choice as an industrial responsibility. We are doing our part to diversify the global energy mix by investing in renewables, with a strategic focus on solar energy and bioenergies.

Why it matters

Demand for electricity will outpace energy demand over the next two decades. Several low-carbon solutions are being implemented in response to this challenge, including natural gas, energy efficiency improvements and the development of renewable energies. Renewables are an ideal complement to fossil fuels. They increase the energy resources available to us and support global economic growth, while also limiting greenhouse gas emissions. For these reasons, renewables have an essential role to play in the International Energy Agency's (IEA) 2°C scenario. By 2035, the share of solar and other renewable energies in the global energy mix is expected to increase from 9% to 20%.

As a responsible industrial player, we are taking action to develop these new energies. Our efforts are focused in particular on solar energy and bioenergies.

  • Benefitting from an abundant and decentralized energy source, the solar photovoltaics industry has seen significant technological advances, especially in energy storage, which have contributed to making it more competitive, profitable and efficient.
  • As for Bioenergies remain the only renewable alternative to fossil fuels for producing liquid fuels such as biodiesel, bioethanol and biojet fuel.

Our ambition is to have close to "20% low-carbon businesses in 20 years' time". These businesses include midstream and downstream gas, renewable energies, energy storage and energy efficiency as well as clean fuels and carbon capture, utilization and storage technology. They are on track to represent close to 20% of our portfolio in 20 years' time.

Continuing to invest in the solar industry

At Total, we have been committed to developing renewable energies, and solar energy in particular, for more than 30 years. Through SunPower and Total Solar, our cutting-edge expertise is present across the entire value chain, from manufacturing photovoltaic cells cells to developing utility-scale plants and installing solar home systems. In 2016, we acquired Lampiris and Saft, a leading provider of energy storage solutions, thereby confirming our strategic expansion in gas and power marketing activities. These two major additions to our Group enable us to fulfill our goal of remaining at the forefront of the solar industry.

Investing in solar energy is also in line with our natural gas strategy. These two energy sources are compellingly complementary in terms of availability and cost: readily available natural gas resources can make up for the intermittent nature of solar energy, while the fixed price of electricity generated from solar energy can help smooth fluctuations in natural gas prices as they change with the market.

PV Salvador: Harnessing Sustainable and Competitive Energy in the Atacama Desert

Launched in June 2014, PV Salvador is a ground-based photovoltaic power plant located in Chile's Atacama Desert, one of the world's most arid and sunny regions. The plant has been providing Chile with electricity since early 2015 and is the world's first solar plant to deliver electricity at the same cost as the traditional power grid.

To become the responsible energy major and help our customers optimize their consumption, the Group has acquired companies specialized in energy management and storage. Our Total Energy Ventures (TEV) fund is dedicated to investing in innovative energy start­ups in these areas. Since TEV was established in 2008, it has evaluated some 2,500 companies and invested €150 million in more than 20 start-ups. In January 2017, this portfolio led to Total being named Corporate Investor of the Year by the Global Cleantech 100 program, which recognizes the top 100 most innovative and promising cleantech start-ups.

Read also

In 2011, Total launched a program to market decentralized photovoltaic solar energy solutions, building on its more than a decade-long commitment to identifying energy access solutions for local populations who do not have access to electricity in its host countries.

Continuing to develop bioenergies

Since the 1990s, we have been committed to developing bioenergies. Our long-standing expertise in refining has given us a major competitive advantage in developing these energy sources. Today, this expertise is helping us respond proactively and meet changing demand by adapting our industrial facilities accordingly.

The commercial production of biomass allows us to produce biofuels, particularly ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE), a gasoline additive, and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) for diesel. But our commitment doesn't end there: we're also investing in research and development to help create a sector that's viable from both a technological and economic perspective. As part of this effort, we're actively researching applications for the non-edible parts of plants we use.

La Mède: Total's First Biorefinery

We are determined to meet the growing demand for biofuels and to actively participate in developing renewable energies while shrinking our environmental footprint. At La Mède, France's first biorefinery, used oils and vegetable oils are processed to make biofuels.