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France's Total buys stakes in solar power start-ups

February 3, 2016

(Reuters) – French oil and gas company Total said on Tuesday that it had taken stakes in two solar power start-ups via its $150 million Total Energy Ventures venture capital fund as it expands in renewable energy.

Total said the deals involved no more than 15 percent of Tanzania- and California-based Off Grid Electric, and California-based Powerhive.

Total did not disclose the value of the deals, but a spokeswoman said they would typically be worth between $1 and $5 million. Total Energy Ventures has stakes in some 20 firms.

“Their systems are expected to speed up electrification in Africa and could be as much a game changer as mobile phones were in their field,” Total Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement.

Both start-ups offer solar power for use in areas with little or no access to electricity power grids, especially in emerging markets such as Africa.

Off Grid Electric develops and distributes home solar systems and battery storage to power small appliances, while Powerhive develops and operates solar power microgrids with battery storage and local distribution.

Total said in September that it planned to invest $500 million per year in new energies including solar and biomass to take advantage of the growing market. Renewables make up 3 percent of Total’s current portfolio and are expected to reach 10 percent by 2030. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by James Regan and Alexander Smith)

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