Total plans to solarize 5,000 service stations as part of its decarbonization drive

Total is pursuing a global program to solarize its industrial and commercial facilities by installing photovoltaic panels across 30% of its service station network. Its one thousandth solar-powered service station was inaugurated in Morocco on August 26, 2019.

One thousand and going strong

Total's fuel retailing network comprises more than 14,000 service stations in 82 countries. In late 2016, a project was launched to install photovoltaic panels at 5,000 of these service stations in 57 countries. On August 26, 2019, the Palmeraie service station in Marrakech, Morocco became the one thousandth in the Total network to be powered by solar energy. Momar Nguer, president of Total Marketing & Services and member of the executive committee, was on hand to cut the ribbon (watch the video).

"This project concerns all geographic regions, especially in Europe and Africa, which have 1,500 and 2,500 targeted stations, respectively," explains Frédéric Touffet, major technical projects manager at Marketing & Services (M&S). A study is conducted for each site to determine its solar exposure and suitability for installing photovoltaic panels at or on shops, carports and canopies.

Installed power at the service stations averages 25 kilowatts-peak1 (kWp) and can reach 80 kWp in certain cases. Eligible service stations must have sufficient space for the panels, which are provided by U.S.-based SunPower, a Total affiliate since 2011. SunPower's panels feature the most efficient technology in the world. The average service station array covers 120 square meters.

In all, the project corresponds to installed power of around 125 MWp, enough to power a city of 125,000 and avoid more than 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

• For more on the subject: Total Gives Itself 15 Years to Make Its Products 15 Percent Less Carbon Intensive

A major investment

© Total

The project also represents a budget of several hundred million dollars. "That works out to between 10 and 15% of M&S's total budget," explains Frédéric Touffet, "and shows that we are serious about our ambition to become the responsible energy major." The panels are expected to generate savings of some $40 million a year by covering between 15 and 30% of the service stations' electricity needs.

This high-profile initiative is designed to demonstrate Total's expertise in renewable energies and, more broadly, in energy efficiency. "We have industrial and commercial customers who would like to lower their energy bills and carbon intensity," notes Frédéric Touffet. "This project gives a large-scale view of what can be done in this area. We're applying it to ourselves, but it can easily be replicated elsewhere."

• For more on the subject: Watching the Clouds Go By

Learning new skills

© Total

In addition to solarizing service stations, Total is installing photovoltaic panels at a number of its depots, refineries and office buildings. Together, the service stations and industrial facilities will generate more than 200 MWp, equivalent to the amount used by a city with 200,000 people.

This program gives Total an opportunity to advance its skills in the design and sizing of photovoltaic installations in a variety of environments, benefiting in the process from Total Solar's core business expertise. "In addition to the technical aspects, we had to take each country's specific regulations into account. We worked with our affiliates to understand what was needed and to design installations that comply with all the related technical, environmental and regulatory constraints," notes Frédéric Touffet. There is no need, for example, to build an oversized installation if the electricity cannot be fed into the local or national grid.

In all, 1,000 service stations have been equipped over a period of 20 months. The pace is scheduled to pick up to 1,000 service stations per year.

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1 Source: Goldman Sachs Investment Research, 2008

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