ABB Ltd. (ABBN), the world’s biggest power-grid supplier, agreed to buy 35 percent of the concentrated sun-power technology developer Novatec Solar with an option to acquire the rest of the German company.
ABB also agreed to cooperate with Novatec on solar power projects, the Zurich-based company said today in a statement. It did not give a price. Concentrated solar systems reflect sunlight, usually with mirrors, to heat liquids and produce steam to generate electricity.
ABB’s acquisition “comes at the tail end of a couple of years of strategic consolidation in the solar thermal industry through acquisitions by major power equipment companies,” said Jenny Chase, solar analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Siemens AG acquired Israeli parabolic trough leader Solel Solar Systems and a 45 percent stake in Italian receiver maker Archimede Solar Energy in 2009. Areva SA (CEI) bought the U.S. Linear Fresnel CSP firm Ausra Inc. in 2010 and Alstom SA (ALO) took a stake in the tower and heliostat technology and project developer BrightSource Energy Inc. in 2010, Chase said from Zurich.
“Strategic consolidation makes sense for solar thermal companies as they get bankable support for their performance guarantees, and for power equipment companies as it gives them a renewable energy growth option related to their core competences,” Chase said. “There are not many independent solar thermal companies left.”
The investment “brings us closer to solar power based on CSP technology and supports ABB’s focus on renewable energies, complementing our own power generation offering,” Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems division, said in the statement. “The technology’s simplicity, financial viability as well as minimal water and land requirements are factors that make it particularly attractive in emerging markets.”
Novatec, of Karlsruhe, is currently building the world’s first commercial 30-megawatt Linear Fresnel power plant in Spain, ABB said.
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