Total To Produce Solar Panels in France

French energy giant Total (NYSE: TOT) will construct a photovoltaic (PV) panel production and assembly unit at Composite Park in France’s north-eastern region of Moselle. The plant will house two production lines for a total capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) representing about 220,000 PV panels per year.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2011 and the first 25 MW line is expected to come on stream towards the end of the year. In the long run, the new unit will create around 80 solar jobs in the region.

“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.

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 (GSZ.PA), produces photovoltaic cells based on a crystalline silicon technology. Tenesol, in which Total holds a 50% stake alongside EDF (EDF.PA), 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.

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