Siemens Concentrated Solar Power Ltd. (formerly Solel Solar Systems) built Israel's first solar energy field that Arava Power Company inaugurated at Kibbutz Ketura last summer. The German giant Siemens AG (DAX: SI; NYSE: SIE) also acquired 37% of Arava Power for $15 million in 2009. Siemens acquired 100% of Solel Solar for $418 million in the same year.
Siemens Israel CEO Eliezer Tokman said that the construction of the solar field and the planning for Arava Power's future fields have already created local expertise. "Although we were late in getting started, we've built here a world-class center. Our people have been asked to carry out projects for Siemens companies in other countries."
Siemens' second investment in Israel may have the largest, but it is not considered the most successful. Solel Solar manufactures thermosolar panels, but the high hopes placed in the Beit Shemesh company have not materialized. The global credit crunch seriously hurt development plans for thermosolar energy facilities in countries such as Spain, and the competing photovoltaic (PV) technology is benefiting from the plunge in manufacturing costs of its solar panels to substantially less than the cost of thermosolar panels.
Siemens wrote off $200 million on its investment in Solel Solar in 2011, and changed its name to Siemens Solar Thermal Energy Ltd. Despite the disappointment, Siemens continues to invest millions in its Israeli operations. Siemens Solar Thermal Energy's staff has grown from 380 people in 2009 to 500 today, including 200 engineers. Siemens now hopes to win the Ashelim thermosolar tender, and if it does, the win will guarantee hundreds of jobs.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 26, 2012
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