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French Energy Giant Total Sets Up New Solar Panels Production Line

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A new photovoltaic (PV) panels production and assembly facility will be build at Composite Park in the north-eastern region of Moselle, France. The plan’s structure will consist of two production lines having a capacity of 220,000 PV panels per year, the equivalent of 50 MW.

The start-up of the construction is planned for the beginning of 2011 with the expectation of the first 25 MW line to go into operation at the end of next year. The project foresees that around 80 jobs will be created in the area.

The president of Total Gas & Power, Philippe Boisseau, said “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.”

Total has been in the solar energy business since 1983 having its presence intensely felt through two companies, Photovoltech and Tenesol.

Photovoltech, with the backing of its shareholders Total (50%) and GDF SUEZ (GSZ.PA), produces multi-crystalline silicon solar cells. The second company, Tenesol, in which Total holds a 50% stake alongside EDF (EDF.PA), is a benchmark player in the solar energy sector providing a wide range of services such as design, manufacturing, installation and operation of photovoltaic energy systems.

The French giant became the biggest shareholder in Massachusetts-based solar cell maker Konarka, U.S., in December 2008. Currently, Total owns nearly 25% of the stake. In June this year, another clean energy company has been added to the investment list of Total, acquiring a 25.4% interest in AE Polysilicon, a U.S. startup specialized in a new solar polysilicon production technology.

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