Siemens AG, Europe's largest engineering company, has agreed to buy solar thermal power company Solel Solar Systems Ltd. for about $418 million to strengthen its portfolio of renewable energy products.
Siemens will buy the Beit Shemesh, Israel-based company from Ecofin Ltd., a London-based investment company specialized in utilities and infrastructure, and another shareholder it didn't identify. Siemens reportedly beat out Areva SA and Alstom SA, which also bid.
Solel develops and builds solar thermal power plants and makes solar receivers, a main component for parabolic trough power plants, the facilities that collect sunlight with mirrors to generate steam to power turbines.
Solel employs more than 500 people and posted sales of almost $90 million in the first six months of this year. It has supplied solar fields in California and is supplying new plants in Spain.
Siemens CEO Peter Loescher is expanding in the solar energy market, an area the company predicts will grow more than 20% a year. Siemens and ABB Ltd. plan to use Solel technology in the $555 billion Desertec project in the Sahara Desert to bring electricity to European homes.