This is big news in the solar world: German giant Siemens, which recently unveiled photographs of its new headquarters in Masdar City, has recently announced that it’s selling off all of its solar assets, including Solel, an Israeli solar builder that the firm only acquired within the last few years for $418 million.
“Due to the changed framework conditions, lower growth and strong price pressure in the solar markets, the company’s expectations for its solar energy activities have not been met,” Siemens said in a statement, according to Bloomberg.
Since prices for photovoltaic panels have plummeted in recent years, solar thermal is becoming increasingly less attractive for all but four major providers. BrightSource and Solar Reserve are still hanging tough in California, writes Forbes, as are Abengoa in Spain and Areva in France.
Areva has just lost a large uranium contract with the Kingdom of Jordan, however.
Solar thermal energy is generated by focusing sometimes hundreds of mirrors on steam-generating boilers that then power a turbine. And Solel’s parabolic troughs are essentially the dinosaurs of this kind of plant, since it still relies on parabolic trough technology that focus the sun on tubes of molten salt running through the mirrors.
Some solar thermal plants are still more energy efficient than photovoltaics, but it’s harder to provide energy storage, which utility companies require in order to ensure optimum stability.
But if Solel’s solar system is so shoddy, who will want to buy it? Maybe China, predicts Forbes, since they have been scouting out new solar opportunities.