Total is planning to open a new research and innovation center at the heart of Ecole Polytechnique cluster at Paris-Saclay, according to a press release issued by the energy giant on Tuesday.
Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne made the announcement during his visit to the Ecole Polytechnique cluster to inaugurate the Ile-de-France Photovoltaic Institute (IPVF), the statement read.
Pouyanne said the center would place Total among one of the best global research ecosystems as well as strengthen the company's ties with the top-tier research teams already present at Saclay.
"We are keen to contribute to the global reach of this cluster, and to anticipate the technological disruptions that will shape the future of energy," he added.
The new Total Research and Innovation Center will prioritize two areas of work: digital, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), and low-carbon power management, in pursuit of sustainable and responsible development.
It will, in partnership with Ecole Polytechnique, develop technology related to low-carbon energies.
For this purpose, Total will fund a chair at Ecole Polytechnique called "Meeting the technological challenges of responsible energy" as part of the Trend-X initiative. The chair will assist research on capturing and storing solar power as well as the development of smart building energy management, and integrate such work into university courses.
The IPVF, on the other hand, will speed up the development of solar power.
"Total has joined forces with a number of partners (EDF [the state-owned utility], the CNRS [The National Center for Scientific Research], Ecole Polytechnique, Air Liquide, Horiba and Riber) to give life to this new center of excellence dedicated to research on solar power and its integration into power grids," the statement said.
According to the press release, this new center is a major project for Total that puts the group at the heart of a global innovation ecosystem.
"Eventually, Saclay will be home to 20-25 percent of the French scientific research community," it said, adding, thanks to the proximity to the Saclay ecosystem, the group would be able to strengthen its open innovation initiative, and its partnerships with internationally recognized research teams.
The center will also add to Total's investments in research and innovation in France, it added. The group has already 1,400 researchers under its wing in seven centers as well as 1,000 agreements with academic partners worldwide.
The management team of Total's R&D department will move to Saclay in 2019 before the new center is officially opened by 2022.
By Hale Turkes