Total has been involved for more than twenty years in the solar photovoltaic sector through its subsidiary Total Energie, which designs and markets solar systems for a large range of application and manufactures its modules in its facilities in South Africa and soon in France. More recently, Total has been a funding shareholder of Photovoltech which produces highly efficient solar cells utilizing a state-of-the-art technology developed by IMEC in Belgium. With an efficiency of more than 15 %, Photovoltech multicrystalline-silicon cells are among the most efficient on the market. Total is also participating in several "Rural decentralized electrification programs" in Morocco, South Africa and Mali. These programs will enable more than 30,000 families to gain access to electricity. Total has also research capabilities, especially in the area of thin-film solar cells with Atotech in Germany, which allows Total to explore new solar cells manufacturing options.
Solar energy perspectives are bright. The cost of this energy has been halved in ten years, and there are solid grounds to believe that it will be again halved within the next ten years. At that level, the off-grid market should have increased dramatically, whereas solar energy costs should become competitive with retail electricity prices in some countries enjoying a large solar resource potential. Reaching this breakeven point should have a very strong impact on solar energy which will shift from a subsidized economy to a market economy.
The solar industry must prepare itself for all the challenges which will appear at every point of the value chain, from raw material to cell technology, module manufacturing processes and grid integration.
Through Total Energie and Photovoltech, Total is ready to play its role in this promising field of the energy world.
Total is a multi-energy company and intends to develop renewable energies. Such development must be accelerated so that renewables may play a significant role in 2030 and thereafter. Total is active in the wind sector, and also in the solar photovoltaic sector. Despite the fact that, as of today, photovoltaic electricity is still very expensive, there are strong reasons to believe that we are close to major breakthroughs which should dramatically decrease the costs. Solar modules could then become a commodity which in an oil and gas portfolio would compare with LPG, for example.
This presentation intends to outline the current situation of the PV industry, the challenges ahead and finally Total's position in the solar PV value chain.
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The capacity of solar power to play a significant role in the world power supply has been debated much in the past twenty years and phases of disappointment and of optimism have succeded each other.
Even if we must remain cautious in consideration of the lessons of the past, it is quite clear that the signals have been very encouraging in the last two years.
It is now well established that solar power will experience the fastest growth of all forms of energy in the next decades.