French supermajor Total has taken a first step into utility-scale US solar development after teaming up with a unit of South Korean giant Hanwha to plan 12 photovoltaic projects with energy storage across five states.

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Total and Hanwha-owned developer 174 Power Global aim to have the full 1.6 gigawatt pipeline online by 2024, said a statement announcing the plan.

The solar plants will span Texas, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming and Virginia, and will be built by a new 50:50 joint venture the two agreed to form.

The deal marks a first move by Total in US utility-scale solar development, and forms part of its wider objective to install a gross 35GW of renewable energy capacity by 2025 that has put it in the front rank of global fossil giants in terms of green ambitions.

The agreement with 174 Power mirrors Total’s forays into other big solar markets such as India and Spain, where it linked with local developers on gigawatt-scale portfolios last year, and most recently France, where it this week announced a deal with Engie for a PV plant to power the nation's largest green hydrogen plant.

Solar, wind and batteries are set to dominate new US power plant installations, according to latest data from the US federal Energy Information Administration, which expect the two generation sources to account for 70% of a total 40GW of capacity to be added this year.

Total has had a presence in the wider US solar market for years via its majority ownership since 2011 of SunPower, the California-based PV equipment supplier.

SunPower split last year when the company span-off Maxeon Solar Technologies as a new venture to concentrate on PV module production, while the residual SunPower business will focus on distributed solar technology.

The US move is the second big statement of renewables intent on the same day by Total, which earlier revealed it will link with Spanish green power giant Iberdrola in a bid to build Denmark’s largest offshore wind farm.

(This article first appeared in Upstream's sister renewable energy publication Recharge on 14 January, 2021.)