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Total makes a big bang Energy Storage acquisition to bolster its Sunpower Acquisition

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Total to acquire Saft

While most large oil and gas majors such as BP and Shell have abandoned their solar energy plans, French giant Total has been expanding its solar play. It bought Sunpower a few years ago to a make a big entry into the solar power sector. It has been helping Sunpower expand its solar panel and solar development footprint across the world, in places such as Latin America and Middle East. Sunpower has been doing relatively well, considering the stiff competition and rapidly changing dynamics of the solar industry in which erstwhile leaders such as Suntech, Yingli and LDK have become bankrupt/defaulted on their bonds.

Note energy storage is set to become the next big thing in solar energy, with solar electricity plus storage costs expected to start competing with retail prices of grid from 2020 onwards. The price of energy storage is expected to come down by almost 50%, while solar electricity prices too are coming down by around 5%-10% every year. This means that solar plus storage will start substituting grid based electricity in households and commercial organizations. This will have a major impact on the utilities business model, while providing a huge market for solar players with an integrated energy storage solution. Sunpower has already entered the solar plus energy storage market along with other players such as Panasonic, SolarCity etc. While this is a still a niche segment, some governments in Japan and Germany are encouraging this technology to help reduce the load on the grid balancing requirements. Besides “behind the meter” energy storage companies such as Saft, Panasonic etc. are also installing energy storage solutions on a large scale on a utility grid level.

Also read Why SunPower is poised to be a Winner.

Total has offered a large valuation premium for Saft, which indicates the high value that solar companies are now giving to energy storage technology. It will also be easier for Total to integrate Saft, considering both are French companies. Saft has been involved in some of the largest energy storages project for utilities, in places such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico. It will be interesting to see if other large solar payers start hunting for energy storage companies to complement their offerings. While SolarCity and Panasonic already have a good lithium battery product portfolio, other large players such as First Solar, Trina Solar etc. do not have such an offering.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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