Total has announced the construction of a photovoltaic panel production and assembly unit at Composite Park in France's north-eastern region of Moselle. With a surface area of 2,800 square metres, the plant will house two production lines for a total capacity of 50 megawatt peak (MWp)* representing about 220,000 photovoltaic panels per year. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2011 and the first line (25 MWp) is expected to come on stream towards the end of the year. Total is present in Moselle through its petrochemicals (Total Petrochemicals France) and specialty chemicals (Cray Valley) activities at the Carling-Saint-Avold industrial platform.
"This project adheres to Total's strategy of positioning itself within the entire photovoltaic solar chain. The production unit, situated near our French, German and Northern European customers, allows us to strengthen our market capabilities", stated Philippe Boisseau, President of Total Gas & Power. "By launching this project, initially announced in 2009, Total also reaffirms its commitment to supporting socio-economic development in Moselle."
Total has been active in solar energy since 1983 through its interests in two companies, Photovoltech and Tenesol. Photovoltech, in which Total holds a 50% interest alongside GDF SUEZ, produces photovoltaic cells based on a crystalline silicon technology. Tenesol, in which Total holds a 50% stake alongside EDF, specializes in designing, manufacturing, marketing and operating solar photovoltaic energy systems.
In December 2008, Total became the biggest shareholder in U.S. startup Konarka, which develops products based on organic solar technologies. Total's stake is now nearly 25%.
In June 2010, Total acquired a 25.4% interest in AE Polysilicon, a U.S. startup specialized in a new solar polysilicon production technology.
In June 2010, Total was selected by the authorities in Abu Dhabi to build and operate the concentrated solar power plant Shams 1. Total's partner in this project is Abengoa Solar, a Spanish company with expertise in concentrated solar power technology. Construction, which already started, is expected to take approximately two years.