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Middle East company to rescue German solar maker

Middle East company to rescue German solar maker

Posting in Energy

UAE's Microsol bids for insolvent, Berlin-based Solon, including U.S. facilities. MidEast solar interest continues to surge, after a late start. Is oil money behind it?

The sun sets in Fujairah where, as in other Middle East regions, it's rising over the solar industry. Photo from UAE Travel Guide website.

Microsol, a solar cell and panel supplier based in the United Arab Emirates, has made a binding offer to acquire bankrupt German solar manufacturer Solon, including Solon facilities in the United States.

Fujairah is the only one of the seven emirates on the Gulf of Oman, not on the Persian Gulf. Map from Wikimedia.

Solon is a former solar pioneer that epitomized industry woes when it went bust late last year amid rapidly plunging solar panel prices. The bid by Microsol signals growing interest by the Middle East region in solar. The UAE and Saudi Arabia, among others, have recently announced plans to build utility-scale solar power plants. Now, with Microsol's offer the region is stepping up interest in the manufacturing portion of the value chain.

According to Bloomberg, Microsol would acquire Solon's Berlin site, which includes panel manufacturing, research and development, procurement and sales. It would also acquire Solon sites in the U.S. and in Italy. Solon closed a plant in Tucson, Arizona last year.

Ruediger Weinberg, the administrator in charge of Solon's insolvency proceedings, has not yet agreed to the Microsol acquisition. He has until March 5 to do so. The Microsol offer does not include Solon's French unit, for which Wienberg is still looking for a buyer.

Weinberg said in an email statement picked up by Bloomberg that Microsol would retain 433 of Solon's 471 employees.

Microsol was founded in 2003, and makes solar cells and panels. It  based in Fujairah, one of the seven emirates in the oil rich UAE. One might wonder if somewhere in the mix, oil money is behind the proposed Solon acquisition. A number of recently announced large scale solar projects have oil industry backing.

More mix of Middle East, solar, oil and Solon on SmartPlanet:

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure