Mixed Greens: German firm buys Australia’s largest solar installer

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True Value Solar bought out by M+W Group. Plus: China boosts emissions, energy efficiency goals; MIT ‘artificial leaf’ concept one step closer.

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Australia’s largest solar PV retailer, True Value Solar, is now fully owned by German-based M+W Group, after the engineering and construction firm bought True Value’s remaining 35 per cent shareholding. M+W was already the majority shareholder in the rooftop solar specialist, having bought 65 per cent of the company in 2011. The acquisition of the remaining stake was announced by True Value late on Tuesday afternoon, described as part of M+W Group’s strategy to further develop its already extensive global solar business.

Jürgen Wild, CEO of M+W Group, said that the plan for True Value was to concentrate on local growth. “Australia is a country where solar production and consumption profiles match excellently to further develop the residential and commercial market,” he said. Last year, True Value’s then-CEO Suren Chandrajit said in an interview that the M+W Group shareholding had allowed for bigger investment in auditing of production lines of suppliers and the product at the point of production – a hugely important investment in a rapidly growing and increasingly competitive rooftop solar market.

As a side note, True Value Solar was recently dragged into the news over its sponsorship of the AFL’s Essendon Football Club, which last month became the centre of an unfolding sports doping controversy. True Value joined Kia Motors in 2011 as one of the club’s two major shirt sponsors, inking a three-year, $5 million-plus deal. In February, the Herald Sun reported that True Value Solar could not be reached for comment over the issue, “though Essendon’s Brownlow Medal winner Jobe Watson was still on the group’s automated phone-answering service.”

In other news…

China has announced plans to step up its efforts to cut emissions and improve energy efficiency, after record air pollution in Beijing so far this year. Bloomberg reports that China’s National Development and Reform Commission said in a report today it would reduce carbon emissions and energy use per unit of gross domestic product by at least 3.7 per cent in 2013 and carry out carbon-trading trials.

The “artificial leaf” solar fuel cell concept has come one step closer to reality this week after a team of MIT researchers published a detailed analysis that laid out a roadmap for a research program to improve the efficiency of the technology – which would use sunlight to produce a storable fuel, such as hydrogen, instead of electricity for immediate use to generate electricity through a fuel cell or other device – and which could quickly lead to the production of a practical, inexpensive and commercially viable prototype.

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