Thursday, March 26, 2009

Solar thermal: Siemens AG acquires stake in Archimede Solar Energy

German engineering and energy giant Siemens AG has acquired 28% stake in Italian solar thermal company Archimede Solar Energy (ASE) for an undisclosed amount. The terms of the acquisition allows Siemens AG to increase its stake in the company to the majority level. Archimede, a subsidiary of Italian industrial group Angelantoni Industrie is a producer of solar receivers which use molten salt as the heat transfer fluid. The capital raised from the acquisition would be used in the expansion of Archimede’s production capacities.

Siemens believes that the solar thermal market is set to cross €10bn mark by 2015. While Siemens is already a market leader in steam turbine-generators for solar thermal power plants, the acquisition has paved the way for the company to become a major solution provider for solar thermal plants.

Solar thermal power plants use high temperature collectors to concentrate sunlight using mirrors or lenses. The concentrated energy is used by the heat transfer fluid to power the turbine at high temperatures. Besides being a non polluting energy, Solar thermal power is most land-use efficient technology.

Renewable energy sector has occupied the top slot in the mind share of the energy analysts and companies especially after the oil spike last year to US$160 barrel. Solar thermal energy as one of the most potentially viable technologies has seen hastened activities. Ausra Inc., a developer of large-scale solar thermal energy systems received US$60.6m funding in October 2008 from arguably the best of the pack venture capitalists including Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Ausra is currently operating a 5MW solar thermal power project in Bakersfield, California apart from a similar facility in Australia.