Total takes 50% stake in wind and solar developer Clearway with $2.4bn deal
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TotalEnergies has made its biggest US renewable power purchase yet with an investment in wind and solar farm developer Clearway Energy Group as the French company pivots towards cleaner energy sources.
The group said on Wednesday it would take a 50 per cent stake in Clearway and partner with its owner, infrastructure fund GIP, in a deal worth $2.4bn. GIP will receive $1.6bn in cash and a stake of just under 50 per cent in SunPower, one of Total’s US subsidiaries.
Total has been building up its US renewable assets in the past year, with a portfolio that includes 8 gigawatts of large-scale solar projects bought from SunChase, the recent acquisition of Core Solar and the development of 4GW of wind projects off the coasts of New York and North Carolina.
Patrick Pouyanné, group chief executive, told a shareholder meeting disrupted by climate protests on Wednesday that Total was eyeing more deals like the Clearway one, and defended the company’s gradual overhaul of its portfolio.
“The 2030 decade will be one of our transformation into a major decarbonated energy player,” he said. He faced a largely empty room, as dozens of activists, some handcuffed together, blocked entry to the meeting.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Biraj Borkhataria said the Clearway deal gave Total a strong pipeline of 25GW of projects in a “key growth market”, adding that oil majors, benefiting from soaring hydrocarbon prices, would probably accelerate such purchases.
Total has said that by 2030 its sales of oil products would drop to 30 per cent of revenues, against 50 per cent for gas and 15 per cent for electricity.
But climate campaigners have objected to its plans to keep investing in new fossil fuel projects in the meantime, including an east African oil pipeline.
They have also criticised Total’s continued presence in Russian liquefied natural gas projects since the invasion of Ukraine, although the group has said it would not invest further and was not cashing out yet so as not to enrich oligarchs.
As at Shell, which was also hit by activist protests at a shareholder meeting this week, investors backed Total’s climate change resolution in lower numbers than in the previous year, with 11 per cent voting against it compared with 8 per cent in 2021.
“It’s time now to call it a day on these oil projects that are destructive for the environment,” said one shareholder, a woman who gave her name as Cécile. An employee of Total in a clean energy division bought out by the company, she said she sympathised with protesters.
André Annat, a retired public infrastructure worker and 30-year shareholder of Total, backed the company’s management.
“We all know we can’t live without oil until we figure out how to do solar energy even more efficiently,” said Annat, one of several hundred investors prevented from entering the meeting.
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