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Siemens expands solar capability with Archimede acquisition


March 24, 2009
By Anthony Capkun

March 24, 2009

Siemens Energy is acquiring a 28% stake in the Italian solar company Archimede Solar Energy S.p.A., thereby expanding its competency in solar thermal power plants. Archimede is the sole producer of solar receivers operating with molten salt as the heat transfer fluid, says Siemens, adding that it is a leader in steam turbine-generators for solar thermal power plants. By combining these two technologies, Siemens wants to enhance the efficiency of these plants and further reduce the production costs for solar power.

“By
acquiring a stake in Archimede Solar Energy, Siemens is underlining its
intention to become the leading provider of solutions for solar thermal
power plants,” said René Umlauft, CEO of the Siemens Renewable Energy
Division. “In the upcoming years, the market for solar thermal power
plants will grow at a rapid pace and the interest of our traditional
customers in the energy sector in this promising future-oriented
technology will increase significantly.”




According
to Siemens estimates, the market for solar thermal power plants will
experience double-digit growth per year to reach a volume of over 10
billion EUR by 2015.




“We
chose Siemens Energy as our partner to enable us to better match the
tremendous growth we are expecting in the solar thermal power sector
worldwide,” said Gianluigi Angelantoni, president of Archimede, a
subsidiary of the industrial group Angelantoni Industrie S.p.A.
“Construction of a new factory for the production of solar receivers,
which is scheduled to be up and running in 2010, will begin before the
end of this year.”




Archimede
Solar Energy is the world’s only company that uses molten salt as heat
transfer fluid in its solar receivers for parabolic-trough power
plants. Compared to plants using the customary thermo oil, says
Siemens, the efficiency of solar thermal power plants can be
significantly enhanced. Molten salt can also be used as a heat store,
with the stored energy being used in solar thermal power plants to also
produce electricity at night.




Solar
thermal power plants work on the same principle as conventional steam
power plants, only the heat for steam generation is not produced by
burning fossil fuels but with the aid of solar energy. To this end,
parabolic mirrors bundle the incident solar radiation and reflect it
onto receiver tubes, through which a heat transfer fluid flows. The
salt used by ASE is heated to temperatures up to 550ºC then flows
through a heat exchanger, in which the steam is produced to drive a
steam turbine-generator.




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