Siemens to shut solar operation

Siemens is to close down its loss-making solar operation after failing to find a buyer for the rump of its concentrating solar power (CSP) business.

The move will affect about 280 staff – mostly at its Israel-based Solel Solar Systems subsidiary.

The German industrial giant announced in October 2012 that it was talking to potential buyers for its solar assets after deciding to exit the sector.

“Investments in this area, not just for us but for others, were not worthwhile,” Siemens chief executive Peter Löscher said last year.

In a statement today Siemens said: “After seven months of intensive sales efforts for our concentrated solar business, it now has become evident that, due to the increasingly difficult market situation, we will not find an investor for this business.

“A transaction which would adequately take the respective interests of customers, employees, investors, and Siemens all into account has not emerged. We had negotiations with a number of interested parties but no agreement could be achieved," added the company.

“Current and prospected market volumes for solar thermal receivers remain on a low level, making it difficult to agree on a business plan for an acquisition scenario that meets the requirements of both investor and seller.”

Siemens had been steadily ramping down the CSP operation since last October, reducing staff from the 680 employed at the time the solar exit was announced.

The company will fulfil a small amount of remaining contractual obligations, which it expects to complete by Spring 2014, before fully shutting the solar division.

The closure is expected to cost Siemens a “double-digit million-euro” amount.

It brings to an end an unhappy foray into solar for the German group that started in 2009, when it bought CSP specialists Archimede of Italy (its stake in which was sold in 2012) and Solel – the latter for $418m.

Since then CSP's prospects have dimmed in the face of massive falls in equipment prices of PV, making the latter a more attractive option for many developers.

The German group has faced persistent criticism that it overpaid for the CSP assets. By the fourth quarter of 2011 it had announced a $314m impairment charge after reviewing the value of its CSP operation.