French oil major Total has announced plans to install solar panels at 5,000 of its service stations within the next five years, including 800 in France alone.
The project, which Total said represents an investment of around $300m, will see around 200MW of solar power installed, equivalent to the amount of electricity used in a city of 200,000 people.
The oil firm claimed the project would save it $40m a year on electricity costs and reduce its carbon emissions by 100,000 tons per year.
The panels are set to be supplied by SunPower, an affiliate of Total based in California that last year topped a ranking for solar PV manufacturers' environmental performance.
"The project is fully aligned with Total's ambition of becoming the responsible energy major and its commitment to developing solar power," said Philippe Sauquet, president of gas, renewables and power at Total, in a statement. "This project demonstrates Total's confidence in SunPower, especially its ability to bring our customers competitive, clean energy."
Total has made several steps towards diversifying its business into cleaner energy, including the acquisition earlier this year of all shares in Lampiris, the third largest supplier of natural gas and green power to the Belgium residential sector. However, critics argue that its clean energy investments remain small compared to the $20bn or so the firm spends on oil extraction and gas each year.
Total also today revealed plans for a new partnership to develop bioplastics with Netherlands-based lactic acid supplier Corbion.
Subject to regulatory approval, the two firms aim to create a 50/50 joint venture to produce and market polylactic (PLA) polymers, with operations slated to begin in the first quarter of 2017.
While based in the Netherlands, the new venture aims to build a "world-class" PLA polymerisation plant with a capacity of 75,000 tons per year at Corbion's site in Thailand.
Corbion will supply the lactic acid for production of PLA, which it claims is one of the first renewable, biodegradable polymers that is able to compete with existing polymers.
Tjerk de Ruiter, chief executive of Corbion, said the venture will combine Total's technical and marketing knowledge and leading position in polymers with Corbion's expertise in lactic acid and biopolymers, helping to accelerate market acceptance.
Bernard Pinatel, president of Total refining and chemicals, said the venture aims to become a major player in the growing bioplastics market, and "responds to sustainability concerns" as it will allow the supply of an innovative material that is 100 per cent renewable and biodegradable.
"This investment is consistent with our One Total ambition of expanding in biofuels and bioplastics, in addition to our more traditional oil- and gas-based products," he said in a statement. "Corbion's unique position in the lactic acid and biopolymers value chain makes it a natural choice for Total."
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