Total installs its third and largest solar farm in Japan

The French oil supermajor doubles its solar project capacity in the East Asian country.
Photo: PIERRE-OLIVIER / Capa Pictures / Total
Photo: PIERRE-OLIVIER / Capa Pictures / Total

French oil and gas supermajor Total is setting up its third solar farm in the land of the rising sun.

Through its subsidiary Total Solar International, installation begins on the 52MWp Miyagi Osato Solar Park. After building two smaller facilities with effects of 25 and 27 MWp, the French firm will have doubled in solar capacity in the East Asian country after the farm's planned commissioning in 2021.

"The Miyagi Osato Solar Park is Total’s third and biggest solar plant in Japan, which will allow us to reach a cumulated capacity of over 100 MWp in the country. This project is in line with Total’s commitment to develop renewable production capacities worldwide and in particular in the Japanese market, where we actively pursue our development," writes Julien Pouget, senior vice president of Renewables at Total, in a statement.

While Total owns 90 percent of the developer, the remaining 10 percent is owned by Japan's Softbank. The French oil outfit thereby moves closer to fulfilling its goal of covering 15-20 percent of its sales from low-emission electricity from 2040, and many other oil companies are also investing in solar – and in several forms.

For instance, Eni invested in in two Australian solar farms last week. Indian solar developer Orb Energy announced the same day that Shell has purchased one fifth of its equity. BP bought Europe's largest solar developer, Lighthouse, in 2017 and has taken several long strides with new tech and new markets, particularly in Brazil, where it purchased a 2GW portfolio this summer and since added another 200 MW won at auction.

Total does not seem content with merely buying up completed solar farms, Wood Mackenzie notes.

"Total is now active across the solar PV value chain. Its SunPower subsidiary manufactures PV modules with a focus on the distributed generation market. Additionally, Total is developing large-scale installations organically through Total Solar and its minority stake in Total Eren," writes WoodMac Senior Analyst Tom Heggarty in a comment.

"This is a continuation of a trend among the European oil and gas majors, with Shell, BP, Equinor, Eni and Repsol all now active participants in the global solar PV market," he adds.

For Japan specifically, WoodMac forecasts around 7 GW in solar capacity installations in the coming years. Compared with other markets, solar projects in Japan are tougher and pricier to execute, WoodMac notes and adds that inherited tariffs exceeding USD 200 per MWh keep things attractive.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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