Erlangen/Munich, 23 February 2010 At today's annual results press conference in Munich, Prof. Utz Claassen, CEO of Solar Millennium AG (ISIN DE0007218406), advocated a structural change in global energy supply: "Although I'm known to be a friend of nuclear power, I'm convinced that solar-thermal power plants can, must and will replace nuclear plants in the future. I hardly know anyone who would seriously deny that our long-term aim must be for energy generation to evolve from fossil fuels to nuclear sources and into the age of solar energy. The time is ripe for a global solar energy economy. It's my firm belief that solar-thermal electricity generation will be tomorrow's preferred energy supply, as it not only spares fossil energy sources, but it also enjoys overwhelming support and acceptance in society." Against this backdrop, Claassen also backed the latest statements on energy policy by Dr. Norbert Röttgen, the Federal Minister for the Environment.
Claassen pointed out that the future of mankind is inseparably tied to the issues of energy, climate protection and the scarcity of resources. "The dramatic rise in global energy consumption has made climate change and increasing scarcity of resources the pivotal challenges of the 21st century." However, according to Claassen, it is not enough to seek solutions in political measures alone. He believes it is one of the main tasks of the industry and companies involved in the energy sector to promote this change towards sustainable energy generation: "The climate summit in Copenhagen showed that climate protection cannot be achieved through politics alone. Only through innovation can we find solutions for this key issue of the 21st century. Solar-thermal power plants are one of the essential keys to a sustainable solution, as they are able to efficiently produce large volumes of solar electricity reliably on demand around the clock, thus supplying major cities and industry with environmentally-friendly power. It's ultimately up to us when we'll be able to actually transform from nuclear energy to solar-thermal electricity generation."
Claassen likewise supported the idea of the Desertec concept at Solar Millennium's annual results press conference and renewed a similar request he had already illustrated at the 1st German Climate Congress in Berlin in September 2006, in his former position as CEO of EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG: "We need to generate electricity consumed in Berlin, London or Moscow in the Sahara or in the Kalahari."
Nevertheless, solar-thermal power plants are not only a solution for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, Claassen stated: "We have to convince our Chinese friends not to connect 500 megawatts of coal-fired power plant capacity to the grid every 56 hours. Instead, large solar power plants should be put into operation every two days." This is why the market for solar-thermal electricity generation is one of the most interesting and exciting growth markets altogether.
In Munich, Claassen also commented on the current energy policy by the German Federal Government. The Federal Minister for the Environment, Dr. Norbert Röttgen, dominated the debate on energy policy over the last weeks with two central issues. In addition to announcing a reduction of solar energy subsidies in Germany, he had also addressed the timely phasing out of nuclear power generation. Claassen welcomed the Minister's stance on both issues from a European as well as a global point of view: "Promoting solar energy is typically most preferable in regions where the sun shines frequently and solar radiation is strong. An intelligent and effective export promotion of German state-of-the-art technology is more beneficial for the German domestic economy and employment than over-subsidizing solar energy within the country. Germany's energy policy must, in fact, aim beyond its borders and thus promote innovation in the industry and the energy sector." Given the better natural preconditions for solar energy in other countries, the expansion of export promotion could have a substantially higher effect for climate protection and the German labor market while using the same amount of taxpayers' money. Claassen further stated that the Federal Minister's remarks on nuclear energy should be seen in an international context as well. In any case, phasing out nuclear power generation in the near future is only possible if the respective renewable energy production capacities are available to replace them: "Among all renewable energies sources, solar energy has by far the greatest potential. It is imperative to utilize this intelligently!"
Claassen emphasized that a strategically new focus in energy policy should not result in playing one method of energy generation against the other. Other technologies, such as photovoltaics, could also benefit from export promotion. This technology provides advantages in decentralized applications, which would also be worth utilizing, whereas solar-thermal power plants can easily be integrated into existing power grids due to their reliable energy generation and cost efficient energy storage capabilities.
About Solar Millennium AG:
Solar Millennium AG, Erlangen, is an international company in the renewable energy sector, with its main focus on solar-thermal power plants. Together with its subsidiaries and associates, the Company specializes in parabolic trough power plants and has managed to take a globally leading position in this field. Solar Millennium strives to further extend its expertise in the area of solar-thermal power plants with the aim of achieving and securing sustainable technology leadership. As such, the Company covers all important business sectors along the value chain for solar-thermal power plants: from project development and financing to the technology and the turnkey construction and operation of power plants. In Spain, Solar Millennium developed Europe's first parabolic trough power plants and realized these together with partners. Additional projects are planned around the world with an overall capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts: here the current regional focus is on Spain, the US, India, China, the Middle East and North Africa. The Company was founded in 1998 and has been listed on the M:access open market segment of the Munich stock exchange since 2005. The Solar Millennium stock is included in the open markets of the relevant German stock exchanges as well as via the electronic trading system Xetra.
About solar-thermal power plant technology:
Solar-thermal power plants generate electricity by converting solar radiation into heat energy. In a parabolic trough power plant, trough-shaped mirrors concentrate the incidental radiation onto a pipe in the focal line of the collector. Its absorption heats a fluid heat medium in the pipe, generating steam in the power block through a heat exchanger. As in conventional power plants, the steam powers a turbine to generate electricity. By integrating thermal storage, electricity can be supplied on demand, even after sunset.
You can download the press release here.