Oil major Total to step up solar power play, says CEO

Solar energy could account for up to 15 percent of French oil major Total's assets by 2030, Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne told French daily Le Monde on Friday.

The logo of French oil giant Total is seen at its headquarters in the financial and business district of la Defense in Courbevoie near Paris October 21, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Pouyanne, who was appointed CEO a little more than a year ago, said that Total had invested $3 billion in solar, which now accounts for 3 percent of the group's assets.


"We believe this is a growing market and that, in about 15 years, it will no longer 3 percent of our portfolio, but about 10 to 15 percent," he was quoted as saying.


Total, which has a market capitalisation of 112 billion euros ($120 billion), entered the solar business with a $1.3 billion 2011 takeover of U.S. company SunPower Corp in one of the biggest moves by an oil and gas major into the renewable energy industry.


While Pouyanne acknowledged that oil and gas still account for about 40 percent of the world's CO2 emissions, he said that coal is by far the bigger polluter and that gas-generated electricity emits half as much CO2 as coal-generated power.


"Coal is the number one troublemaker, the enemy, so to speak," he said, adding that Total is becoming more and more focused on gas.


He also said that Total tests the profitability of all its investment projects by integrating a CO2 cost of 25 euros per tonne.


Pouyanne added that he did not believe there should be a global CO2 price but said that there should be a carbon-pricing mechanism in as many regions of the world as possible.


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