MAN Ferrostaal has increased its share in the Solar Power Group (SPG) by around 19 %, now owning a total 43.8 % of the company. The Solar Power Group is active in the field of solar thermal power generation and develops and constructs components for solar power plants based on the so-called Fresnel technology.
“We regard our involvement in SPG as a strategic investment and as a cooperation geared towards the future,” says Dr. Klaus Lesker, Member of the MAN Ferrostaal Executive Board and person in charge of the company’s solar and conventional power plant business. “We’re convinced that the Fresnel technology has great potentials. At the current time in particular, increasing our capital investment should be perceived as a positive signal by the market.”
By increasing its share, MAN Ferrostaal supports further research and development at SPG. Currently, SPG is completing projects in Spain, the U.S. and Libya. Because of the high levels of daily insolation, the states of the MENA region, the U.S. and Australia are principal target markets for the application of.the technology. With the takeover of the majority shares in MAN Ferrostaal by the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), the countries of the Middle East are now increasingly coming into focus for future SPG activities.
“IPIC is very interested in innovative and future-oriented technologies,” says Jacques de Lalaing, Managing Director of the Solar Power Group. “Solar thermal power fits the bill here, because it is one of the most important technologies for the future. There is no equivalent alternative in the power generation sector. It is also many times more efficient than wind power and photovoltaics. Both the high level of ecological sustainability of the technology and the economic aspects are convincing: the plants have a minimum service life of 20 years, and if required they can be expanded on a modular basis without a problem. This enables electricity to be generated not only very economically, but also in a particularly environment-friendly manner. That’s becoming ever more important.”
Until today, solar power plants are generally associated with concave mirrors and the parabolic trough technology. But there are various technical differences between the parabolic trough and Fresnel power plants which noticeably improve cost-effectiveness. The flat mirrors, for instance, which are used in Fresnel collectors, can be produced with very low manufacturing costs. Instead of thermo oil which is used in parabolic trough collectors, water flows through the absorber tube in Fresnel power plants. The water can be directly heated to 450°. An energy- and cost-intensive heat exchange isn’t required. The space needed for the technology is comparatively small.
Dr. Lesker explains the reasons why his company has intensified its solar business: “Worldwide energy consumption is growing; CO2 emissions are constantly increasing and affecting the climate. The costs for fossil fuels will presumably also continue to rise. We therefore need innovative solutions to counter this development. The sun supplies energy free of charge, every day much more than we consume around the world. It is precisely the sun-rich countries which offer potential markets here. We’re already well represented in many of these countries today. We want to take advantage of this.” In sun-rich regions the ground is mostly of little economic value because of its unsuitability for agriculture. Consequently, reasons Dr. Lesker, solar thermal technology offers the disadvantaged regions in the Earth’s sunbelt good development opportunities.
About MAN Ferrostaal AG
MAN Ferrostaal is a global provider of industrial services in plant construction and engineering. As a general contractor in plant construction, the company offers project development, project management and financial planning for turnkey installations, including petrochemical plants, gas and solar power stations, oil and gas installations, biofuels and industrial plants. MAN Ferrostaal operates as an independent sales and service partner in the automotive, printing and packaging machinery, piping and marine construction sectors, employing around 4,400 people in 60 different countries. In 2008, its annual turnover amounted to 1.6 billion euros. The majority of the shares of MAN Ferrostaal is held by the International Petroleum Investment Company from Abu Dhabi (IPIC – 70%). MAN AG, Germany, is a minority shareholder (30%). For more information, visit www.manferrostaal.com