ABB says that it has sharpened its focus on the solar energy industry with the purchase of a 35 per cent stake in Novatec Solar, a Germany-based concentrated solar power (CSP) technology company.

The acquisition will broaden ABB’s involvement in the CSP industry, which up until now was limited to the provision of power and automation solutions for CSP plants. Novatec builds solar steam generators based on Fresnel collector technology, which uses flat glass mirrors to capture solar energy.

“This investment brings us closer to solar power based on CSP technology and supports ABB’s focus on renewable energies, complementing our own power generation offering,” said Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems division.

Novatec Solar’s patented Linear Fresnel technology has been demonstrated with a 1.4 MW plant connected to the Spanish electricity grid since March 2009. The company is currently constructing the world’s first commercial 30 MW Linear Fresnel power plant, also in Spain, and recently won an order to retrofit a solar field to a 2,000 MW coal-fired power plant in Australia.

According to ABB, Novatec Solar’s technology is highly competitive compared with other CSP technologies due to its use of flat glass and common steel in low-lying mirror modules that are easy to assemble and install.

“The technology’s simplicity, financial viability as well as minimal water and land requirements are factors that make it particularly attractive in emerging markets, where ABB has a strong position,” commented Leupp.

ABB’s investment includes an option to acquire 100 per cent of Novatec Solar and an agreement to cooperate on future solar power plant projects. The deal would help Novatec to position itself as “a leading global solar company”, according to Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, Chairman of the Board of Novatec Solar and Joint Managing Director of Transfield Holdings, Novatec Solar’s majority shareholder.