Project Development, Solar, Utility Scale

Siemens Expands Solar Thermal Portfolio with Solel Acquisition

Siemens has acquired Israel-based Solel Solar Systems for US$418 million, to strengthen its position in the concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) market. Siemens acquired a 63% stake from Ecofin Ltd., a London-based investment firm and another major shareholder. It now owns 100% of Solel.

Solel is one of the world’s two leading suppliers of solar receivers and has been present on the Spanish market since 2006, and is also active in the US market. It produces solar troughs and is involved in the manufacture and installation of solar fields for large scale solar energy production. The company was set up in 1992 by former Luz International staff, after Luz went bankrupt. Luz International produced the first solar trough technology in 1984.

This year Solel posted revenues of $90 million, doubling the $40 million revenue it posted last year. Siemens’ environmental portfolio posted revenue of nearly $19 billion in 2008.

Siemens is currently projecting annual double-digit growth rates for concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) plants by 2020. René Umlauft, CEO of the Renewable Division said, “The market for solar thermal energy is highly promising, and vigorous growth is expected to continue for Solel.”

Siemens is the world leader in the solar thermal power plant steam turbine market with 80% of market share, and hopes that with the acquisition of Solel they will be able to develop technology as the market grows. Siemens also acquired a 28% stake in Archimedes Solar Energy in March 2009, an Italian based company which has developed technology for receiver tubes.

Solar trough

Solar thermal is being viewed as a complement to solar power plants in appropriate geographical regions. Siemens has emphasised that solar thermal power production is most efficient on the sun belt, and predicts development in the Middle East and Chile.

René Umlauft added, “Solel boasts high efficiency receiver technology and comprehensive expertise in engineering and construction of solar fields. In the future we will be able to offer the key components for the construction of parabolic trough power plants from a single source. Our aim is to increase the efficiency of solar thermal power plants in the future.”

Peter Löscher, Siemens’ president and CEO, emphasised that this move followed the company’s promise to expand its solar thermal sector earlier this year. He also commented that the growth expected in this sector would generate additional jobs.  

“After the rapid and highly successful expansion of our wind power business, we now want to continue this success story in the solar sector. With the acquisition of Solel, Siemens can now strengthen its market position in the promising business of solar thermal power plants. New receiver technologies like those developed by Solel are becoming cost effective.” he said.

The deal is subject to approval by the responsible authorities and is expected by the end of 2009. Peter Löscher added, “We now have complete control of all solar thermal components. After signing the contract we will be able to develop solar thermal energy further.”

Siemens is one of the companies involved in the Desertec programme, which will see renewable energy power plants in North Africa provide energy for Europe. Peter Löscher said the first plants, including solar thermal power plants, would be built after seven or eight years, when the technology had developed.