Siemens, Germany’s giant electronics firm, appears to be in final stages of pulling out from its investment in Israel’s Solel Solar initiative. The four-year project began in 2009, when Siemens entered into an agreement to buy the Israeli solar company. The beleaguered solar energy projects company received what seems to be a death knell.
Siemens recently announced the firing of 150 of its remaining 200 employees, leaving only a technical staff of 50 employees to deal with some solar energy projects in Spain.
News of this action appeared Sunday in Israel’s Globes financial newspaper, which reported that the action was due to Siemens not being able to find a buyer for the ailing thermal solar projects company.
Solel Solar became known as a global leader in building solar thermal fields, using 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. Although the company did supply solar thermal plants for some projects, including some in Spain, there has been controversy surrounding using large solar mirror projects which environmental experts fear may cause blindness to animals living in the areas when the solar mirrors are erected making them a “death Knell” for area wildlife.
Siemens acquired Solel Solar in 2009 for $418 million USD and at its peak 400 employees worked there. Besides the environmental issues, the thermal solar technology used became too expensive to compete in a declining solar energy market where photovoltaic solar panels were also having market problems. Siemens made a decision in late 2012 to quit the solar energy business.
A Spanish company, Abengoa SA had made a previous offer to purchase Solel Solar from Siemens. It later withdrew the offer when it became apparent that the future of the solar energy market was uncertain. Siemens has lost “hundreds of millions of Euros” in the project.
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