Siemens steams into solar
Published 17th October 2009 - 0 comments - 812 views -
Looking for the gear needed to produce power from coal or nuclear fuel? Call Siemens. The Munich-based conglomerate is a world leader in electricity generation and it can supply all your equipment needs. But Siemens can see which way the breeze is blowing, so to speak, and along with investing in wind turbines, it's now placing a big bet ($418 million) on solar.
But not solar as in those photovoltaic panels you see on rooftops. That's small time and way behind hydropower or wind power, when it comes to renewables. Solar panels are not where the solar action will be. We're talking solar thermal energy here. Thermal relies on the sun's heat energy to generate steam and Siemens is predicting that the global market for solar thermal power will grow by 20 percent a year and become a €23 billion industry by 2020.
Which brings us back to that $418 million. That' how much Siemens paid this week for Solel Solar Systems. The Israeli company racked up sales of nearly $90 million in the first half of this year, which is impressive, but what's much more impressive is its technology. What Solel specializes in are solar receivers, a vital component in power plants that use mirrors to collect sunlight to generate the steam that powers electric turbines. And Siemens is, of course, a major maker of steam turbines. Perfect fit, as they say on those MBA courses.
Oh, and one more thing. Solel's technology could be critical for the development of Desertec, an enormous project to build a solar thermal system that would generate power in the Sahara Desert and transmit it through cables across North Africa and under the Mediterranean to Europe's homes. The sums that have been bandied about for the completion of Desertec range as far north as €500 billion. Now, that's a pie worth having a piece of, and Siemens is placing itself nicely to get a big slice.
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