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France’s Total to build solar panels in renewable-hungry Vietnam

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Deal to generate 51 GWh of electricity a year as companies seek alternative energy

French oil company Total will provide solar power to industrial property developer KCN Vietnam as both the manufacturing and fossil fuel sectors face pressure to transition to clean energy.

The deal will put 280,000 square meters of solar panels on factory and warehouse roofs, pumping out 51 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year, KCN said in a Tuesday news release that did not give a price for the deal. The move comes as oil and gas companies brace for a future when their businesses are supposed to be obsolete, from petroleum giant Eneos planning to buy Japan Renewable Energy to BP setting up a wind joint venture in the U.S.

In Vietnam, companies from toymaker Lego to Swiss sports brand Mammut to Apple suppliers are requesting that alternative energy be used at factories they source from. Manufacturers have global targets to jettison fossil fuels, targets that will be hard to hit without Vietnam as the country becomes a bigger part of their supply chains. But the supply of wind and solar power has not kept up with demand because the legacy grid system relies on coal, gas and hydropower, and authorities have not given the green light for companies to buy renewable energy directly from private producers.

Total, which has rebranded as TotalEnergies, will operate the photovoltaics for 20 years, avoiding 23,390 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, KCN said.

“We have been looking for a reliable and experienced partner to help provide clean energy to our tenants,” Chief Operating Officer Tran Huynh said. “It has been a long journey, but we finally signed the [memorandum of understanding] with TotalEnergies.”

She also described last month the property developer’s other green plans, including LEED-certified buildings. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a certification for efficient, environmentally friendly buildings.

“I don’t think that people just say ‘sustainable’ for marketing purposes,” she said. “But you’ve got to really do it. And [deciding] when is the right timing, when you pull the trigger, is a critical point.”

By Lien Hoang – Nikkei Asia – August 9, 2022

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