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Silicon Valley solar stays red hot

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Scott Budman

    Jobless claims continue to disappoint, and it's an understatement to say that a large number of Americans are getting fed up with government inefficiency when it comes to fixing our economy.  So, where's a job hunter to look for hope, not to mention a little efficiency?

    It may surprise you to find them both in the solar industry.  No doubt, solar has earned lots of the "hot" puns you see in just about every article about its prospects.  It's growing, not just in Silicon Valley, but globally.  Demand for panels is high, and while some public solar companies have struggled on Wall Street lately, funding is still rolling in to solar startups.

    One deserving of its praise can be found nestled in Silicon Valley itself - specifically, Sunnyvale.  It's called AQT Solar, and after a few years of quiet growth, this may be its time to, um, shine.  AQT is cutting the ribbon on a new facility - its second one.  The new building has been built to produce something close to 1 gigawatt of solar every year, requiring 250,000 feet of space to do so.

    At this point, you may say "I've heard this before."  And you have.  Just up the road apiece, Silicon Valley neighbor Soylndra is building  a mammoth facility, one that even brought President Obama out to give it his blessing.  But, like our government itself, Solyndra is under fire for spending too much money too quickly, and paying the price.  The company recently pulled its planned IPO, and is the subject of all sorts of rumors about where it goes next.

    AQT, on the other hand, has been praised in the past for spending, and building, more wisely than its solar brethren.  Forbes magazine wrote about how efficient AQT's system is, leading to faster growth, and better cost management.  Now, with a new facility about to open, AQT is able to boast of growth,  not just when it comes to buildings, but when it comes to workforce.  New jobs will be created with the new building, and its system of making solar cells that are cheaper than competitors is drawing praise.

    It's a step in the right direction for an industry, and an economy, that has been staggering lately.

    Scott will be at the grand opening.  He's on Twitter  @scottbudman