French supermajor Total has paired up with Google Cloud to develop a solar mapping tool to help accelerate the deployment of solar panels on homes, with reduced global carbon emissions in their sights.

Renewables took a starring role in the International Energy Agency’s flagship report, World Energy Outlook 2020 this week, with solar seen as the “new king of the world’s electricity markets”.

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“Based on today’s policy settings, it is on track to set new records for deployment every year after 2022,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said.

Total and Google Cloud have pooled together to jointly develop the Solar Mapper, which aims to accelerate the deployment of solar panels for individuals by providing an accurate and rapid estimate of the solar energy potential of their homes.

The tool will be deployed first in Europe and then worldwide, Total said.

According to Total, Solar Mapper uses new artificial intelligence algorithms that provide better results than current tools, especially by improving the quality of the data extracted from satellite images and the sharpness of the estimation of the solar potential.

In addition, the tool evaluates the relevance of the technology to be installed from a global geographical coverage perspective.

“In the case of France, Solar Mapper provides more than 90% geographical coverage, allowing many more people to assess the solar potential of their homes, with greater accuracy than before,” Total said.

Total’s chief technology officer Marie-Noelle Semeria said: “By combining Total's expertise in solar energy with Google Cloud's expertise in artificial intelligence and databases, we were able to develop an attractive and innovative offer together in just 6 months."

In addition, Total plans to develop a business-to-business application of Solar Mapper, dedicated to industrial and commercial buildings and installations.

Solar Mapper is also expected to contribute to Total’s ambition to become a world leader in the production of renewable energies, towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

Solar push for Total

This year, Total made a huge new push into Spanish solar, claiming this will allow it to run its entire European operations on renewable electricity.

Last month, the company signed an agreement with local developer Ignis to develop 3.3 gigawatts of solar plants in the Madrid and Andalusia regions, with full power production by 2025.

The Ignis partnership follows a similar deal earlier this year with Powertis and Solarbay to build about 2GW of Spanish PV.

Total said once the plants are in operation by the middle of the decade it will buy almost 6 terawatt-hours of solar power from about 3GW of the arrays, enough to cover the entire power needs of its European sites and eliminating about 2 million tonnes of emissions annually.

The new Spanish deal adds to major solar agreements struck in India and Qatar that mean the French group has taken positions in about 8GW of PV development in 2020 alone, adding to its long-standing place in the solar market via control of US solar panels manufacturing subsidiary SunPower.