German industrial giant Siemens is now involved in talks to purchase the Israeli Solel Solar Energy Ltd., according to an article published in Globes, Israel’s leading business paper.
Solel, a global leader in building solar thermal fields, was partially invested in by a UK energy company, Ecofin about 18 months ago. But it now appears that Seimens has become very interested in the Israeli company, due to its technology that converts sunshine into useful thermal energy, and subsequently into electricity. It is considered one of the most promising Israeli solar energy innovators, up there with other companies on investors’ watchlists like BrightSource, ZenithSolar, Aora, and Di.S.P. (the technology of Prof. Avi Kribus).
Solel uses parabolic mirrors that concentrate the solar energy onto solar thermal receivers containing a heat transfer fluid. The heat transfer fluid is circulated and heated through the receivers, and the heat is released to a series of heat exchangers to generate super-heated steam. The steam powers a turbine/generator to produce electricity delivered to a utility’s electric grid.
Ecofin has not responded to these reports, and if the deal goes through – estimated at being worth between $200 and 300 million – Seimens will most likely have to buy out Ecofin’s interest, including any royalties or profits the UK company would be entitled to.
Solel is in competition with a German Company, Schott, that has three production facilities, compared to just one (in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh) for Solel.
The type of thermal fields that both companies make are now in big demand, due to the urgency to set up power plant running on clean, renewable energy by their very efficient conversion of sunlight into energy. The deal could be a godsend for the Solel company, as they have been trying to find additional investors in order to make more advanced thermal receivers that would give them a leading edge over companies like Schott.
Besides the plant in Beit Shemesh, which hires around 400 people, Solel also has a subsidiary in the USA. Large solar energy power plants have been built by Solel in a number of countries, including the USA and Spain. In the US Solel is reportedly to build the largest solar plant in the world with PG&E.