ABB Invests in Concentrated Solar Power

A 35 percent stake in Novatec Solar, with an option to acquire 100 percent of the German company, gives ABB an added position in the fast-growing CSP sector of the renewable energy market.

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ABB Ltd. (www.abb.com), the Zurich-based power and automation technology group, continues to strengthen its expertise in the power generation and energy space.

ABB announced on March 16 that it has agreed to buy a 35 percent stake in Novatec Solar (www.novatecsolar.com), formerly Novatec Biosol, a Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology company based in Karlsruhe, Germany. The investment includes an option to acquire 100 percent of Novatec Solar, and an agreement to cooperate on future solar power plant projects, ABB said. The companies agreed not to disclose financial details of the transaction.

CSP is a fast-growing sector of the renewable energy market and this investment complements ABB’s existing activities in power plant automation, electrification and long-distance electricity transmission. Other recent ABB energy investments include the acquisitions of Insert Key Solutions Inc. (IKS) a software supplier with an extensive customer base in the thermal and nuclear power sectors, and Ventyx Inc., a provider of software to global energy, utility, communications, and other asset-intensive businesses.

Steam and mirrors

In its press release announcing the latest deal, ABB said that Novatec Solar is a leading provider of Linear Fresnel CSP technology using flat mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy onto a receiver to produce steam. The solar-produced steam reduces the need for fossil fuels to generate electricity in existing or new power stations, and also in process plants and other industrial applications where heat is required. Compared with other CSP technologies, Novatec Solar’s technology is highly competitive due to its use of flat glass and common steel in low-lying mirror modules that are easy to assemble and install, ABB said


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“This 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,” said Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “The technology’s simplicity, financial viability as well as minimal water and land requirements are factors that make it particularly attractive in emerging markets, where ABB has a strong position.”

Expanding potential

“ABB’s strategic investment will help position Novatec Solar as a leading global solar company,” said Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, Chairman of the Board of Novatec and joint Managing Director of Transfield Holdings, the company’s majority shareholder. “ABB is at the forefront of renewable energy generation and integration, and we look forward to working together and expanding the potential of this technology.”

Novatec Solar’s patented Linear Fresnel technology has been demonstrated with a 1.4 megawatt (MW) plant connected to the Spanish electricity grid since March 2009. The company is currently constructing the world’s first commercial 30 MW Linear Fresnel power plant, also in Spain, and recently won an order to retrofit a solar field to a 2,000 MW coal-fired power plant in Australia, ABB said. Novatec Solar has developed a highly automated manufacturing process and solar field cleaning system. The company, which has about 80 employees, also won the overall Industry as well as Energy and Environment Awards at the 2009 Hanover Fair.

ABB Ltd.
www.abb.com

Novatec Solar
www.novatecsolar.com

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