In spite of its name, products from Solar Turbines are not powered by the sun. The Caterpillar subsidiary designs, manufactures, and services industrial gas turbines. Its products are used in oil and gas production, natural gas transmission, and crude oil pumping systems, as well as for electrical and thermal power generation. In addition to gas turbine engines, gas compressors, and gas turbine-powered compressor sets, Solar Turbines offers mechanical-drive packages and generator sets. Services include financing, installation, and aftermarket parts support. The company, which sells and services its products from some 40 locations worldwide, exports more than 70% of its products from the US.
Since its acquisition by Caterpillar in 1981, the company has gained momentum moving into developing markets. Its equipment is installed in a hospital in China, along the Bolivia-to-Brazil natural gas pipeline in South America, at a remote nickel mining operation in western Australia, and on an offshore drilling platform in Venezuela. In 2010 Solar Turbines announced plans to build a repair and assembly plant in the Czech Republic to focus on repairing industrial gas turbines and gas and diesel engines as part of a project to repair industrial turbines across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Overhaul and field repair services provide recurring revenue.
Founded in 1927 as the Prudden-San Diego Airplane Company, Solar Turbines transitioned to the Solar Aircraft Company in 1929 and began making metal components for other manufacturers. The company was acquired by International Harvester in 1960 and exited the aerospace industry in 1973 to focus on gas turbines, making it an attractive acquisition for Caterpillar. – less