Confused much? Oil major Total embraces solar power at 5,000 of its petrol stations in $300m investment

Francesca Washtell
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Oil prices around the world reach record highs.
Total's taking another step in its aim to become the "responsible energy major" (Source: Getty)

Seemingly without a hint of irony, French oil major Total has said it will spend $300m (£239m) equipping around a third of its service stations worldwide with solar panels within the next five years, including 800 in France.

The group said the installations at 5,000 of its petrol stations were another step towards becoming the "responsible energy major" and will shave 10,000 tonnes off its annual carbon emissions.

The investment is small by the company's standards – it spends around $20bn a year on oil and gas extractions – and rakes in the vast majority of its cash from the non-renewable petrocarbon economy.

Read more: Oil major Total makes near €1bn wager on renewable energy

However, it is a high-profile commitment in what Total sees as a growth sector. Earlier this year, Total bought up stakes in two solar power startups via its $150m Total Energy Ventures fund.

The panels will be made by Total's affiliate solar energy group, SunPower, in which it bought a controlling stake for $1.4bn in 2011.

Read more: Total ramps up cost-cutting measures to combat low oil prices

The total solar capacity installed at the service stations will be around 200 MW, equivalent to the amount of electricity used to power a city of 200,000 people.

Philippe Sauquet, president of gas, renewables and power at Total, said:

The project is fully aligned with Total's ambition of becoming the responsible energy major and its commitment to developing solar power. It will reduce our carbon emissions by 100,000 tonnes per year and cut out electricity bill by $40m per year.

The panels will be supplied by our affiliate SunPower, which offers the world’s most efficient solar technology. This project demonstrates Total’s confidence in SunPower, especially its ability to bring our customers competitive, clean energy.

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