International oil and gas giant Total will invest roughly $300 million to install solar power at 5,000 gas stations across the world! The company anticipates installing a total of 200 megawatts of SunPower solar arrays at its stations, including 800 in its home country of France.
While it might seem odd for an oil an oil and gas company to make such a move, there are a number of factors that likely play into its announcement. Most recently the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), a group of 10 oil and gas producers around the world—representing 20 percent of the world’s suppliers—including Total, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, among others, announced that they will collectively invest $1 billion over the next decade “to develop and accelerate the commercial deployment of innovative low-emissions technologies.”
“The creation of OGCI Climate Investments shows our collective determination to deliver technology on a large-scale that will create a step change to help tackle the climate challenge. We are personally committed to ensuring that by working with others our companies play a key role in reducing the emissions of greenhouse gasses, while still providing the energy the world needs,” the initiative’s signatories said. However, the joint statement also observed that they will focus on natural gas, carbon capture and other options to minimize emissions.
Total appears to be taking a more aggressive track with the new announcement. “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 tons per year and cut our electricity bill by $40 million per year,” said Philippe Sauquet, president of Gas, Renewables & Power at Total.
Sauquet added, ”The panels will be supplied by our affiliate SunPower, which offers the world’s most efficient solar technology.” Indeed, Total purchased a 60 percent stake in SunPower in 2011 and though US-based SunPower operates independently, it has worked with Total on other solar projects, like converting Santiago, Chile’s subway system to run on solar and wind power.
Of the new project to install solar at gas stations, Sauquet said: “This project demonstrates Total’s confidence in SunPower, especially its ability to bring our customers competitive, clean energy.”
It also appears that the company is continually diversifying its interests in energy. Earlier this year it purchased US-based energy storage company Saft for $1.1 billion. It’s speculation at this point, but Electrek asks: “What if it's the first step to convert the gas stations into electric vehicle charging stations?” With the combination of the two, solar and energy storage, perhaps it could be a step in that direction.Tweet