For better or worse, major energy transitions take a long time. That has some clean-energy advocates worried about the future of the environment. And even energy companies with an eye on the future like TotalEnergies (TTE -0.32%) need to balance supporting older energy technologies, like gasoline engines, with building out the infrastructure to support new ones, like electric vehicles (EVs). The good news for this French energy giant is that the old business is also supporting the new one.

The big picture

When oil overtook coal as the main global energy source, the transition was 100 years in the making. It's possible that the transition to EVs could move faster than that, of course, but so far it doesn't seem like this will be the case. Even under fairly generous assumptions, the U.S. vehicle fleet might only be 45% electric by 2040, with a low-end estimate of less than 10% if EV adoption is muted. So gasoline will still be needed for years and years to come.

That's great news for TotalEnergies, which is one of the largest integrated energy companies on the planet. But the company isn't sticking its head in the sand and praying that EVs go away.

TotalEnergies is investing heavily in clean energy. A key part of that is building out an EV charging fleet. That includes locations on highways, at corporate facilities, at traditional gas stations, and even a service for individuals at their homes. On top of that, TotalEnergies is focused on expanding its footprint in electricity production as well, since EVs are expected to increase electricity demand. 

So as EVs expand their hold, TotalEnergies plans to be there to help support the demand.

What you get

But the big story here is really TotalEnergies' overall business, which is still heavily tilted toward oil and natural gas. Given that these are the dominant fuel sources today, that's not a bad thing. In essence, the company is using its cash-cow operations to fund its own internal energy transition.

Moreover, the company has remained committed to the dividend. So as of Wednesday's prices, you can collect a hefty 5.4% dividend yield here while you wait for TotalEnergies to shift its business along with the world. That's one of the highest yields in the integrated-major peer group.

Since it is a foreign company, you'll have to pay French taxes on the dividends (you can claim those taxes back come April 15). And the actual value of the payment you receive will fluctuate along with exchange rates. Still, with peers like BP and Shell choosing to cut their dividends to support similar clean transitions, TotalEnergies stands out.

TTE Dividend Per Share (Quarterly) Chart

TTE dividend per share (quarterly). Data by YCharts.

The most notable thing here, however, is that there won't be a single winner in the EV space, just like there isn't a single dominant name in the gasoline or auto market. So there's plenty of room for TotalEnergies to build a solid business along with its peers. It won't happen overnight, but over time TotalEnergies plans to be a big player in the EV charging space.

Big transitions happen slowly

TotalEnergies probably won't make ESG investors very happy, but the truth is that there is no light switch to hit as the world looks to go green. It will take time, with demand for oil likely to remain strong for decades to come.

TotalEnergies, however, plans to use that to its advantage, and that makes it an attractive energy stock likely to thrive both through the transition to EVs and after.