French energy giants Total and EDF said they were joining forces with French research institutes and schools to create a solar energy research institute south of Paris, with a 150 million euro ($206.5 million) budget.

The planned Ile-de-France Photovoltaic Institute (IPVF), scheduled forconstruction next year in Saclay, is intended to compete with leading institutions in the United States, Japan and Switzerland.

The group, which includes France's prestigious engineering school Polytechnique and government research institute CNRS, aims to attract about 200 researchers by 2016.

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