Total: a renewable start to the year

March 26, 2020

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As the price of oil plummets, French oil and gas giant Total announces further investments in renewable energies. While Total is not completely unfamiliar to this market, the company have now invested more than USD$1bn into alternative energy since the start of 2020.

Total’s CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, has announced that Total aspire to become a major player in the renewable energy sector. Whilst this may come as a surprise to most, Total has already started putting this plan in motion. Only last September, the group increased their intended investment into “low carbon” energy by around USD$500m, to an impressive $1.5-2 billion per year.

Their objective is to create 25 gigawatts of generation capacity in renewable energy by 2025, and to achieve 15-20% of turnover through the sale of low-carbon electricity by 2040. Clearly, there is still a long way to go. When the annual results were published, Patrick Pouyanné acknowledged that in order to achieve these objectives, the group will have to increase investments beyond the 1.5-2 billion dollars per year. He also felt that their limits were not financial, but in fact related to manpower and the attraction of renewable projects.

Since January this year, Total has announced the launch of five renewable energy projects (and a partial sale). The group intends to build solar power plants in Spain (with a capacity of two gigawatts) and Qatar (800 megawatts), as well as to acquire a 50% stake in a two-gigawatt portfolio in the Indian solar market. This will double the group’s renewable energy capacity, which currently stands at merely 3 gigawatts.

Total has simultaneously started the construction of a pilot plant to produce batteries for electric vehicles in cooperation with Peugeot, a hefty investment of 200 million euros. Furthermore, in the field of “green” mobility, Total will install and construct up to 20,000 recharging points for electric vehicles in the Amsterdam region.

Overall, these projects represent an investment package of approximately USD$1bn (excluding contracts in Spain and the Netherlands, the amounts of which have not yet been disclosed). Against a backdrop of increased pressure on the environment and falling oil prices, these announcements come at the right time to remind investors that Total is no longer just an oil giant.

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by Nicolas Boudou


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