Solar Power After Solyndra

Siva Power chief executive Brad Mattson said the solar power industry was affected by the bankruptcy of Silicon Valley's own Solyndra, but it was necessary.

Mattson, who sold the semiconductor company he founded, Novellus Systems, to Lam Research for $3.3 billion in 2011, started Siva Power in the same year. "I retired," he said, "but a lot of my people who worked for me went into solar. . . . I fell in love with it."

When asked how Solyndra affected the solar industry, Mattson said it affected investors more than the industry. "(The Solyndra question) has to do with people who invested in Solyndra," Mattson said. "If you were one of those guys that wrote a $10 million check, you wouldn't forget about it after just three years."

As long as solar cell makers worked on affordable products, they were likely going to be successful. "In the 1920s there were 300 automobile companies. About four to five years later there were only 10," he said. "Henry Ford figured out how to make it cheaper so everyone could afford it."

Mattson said that Solyndra was simply one of the casualties -- one of those hundreds of automobile companies in the 1920s. "It also became a political football," he said.

Mattson's company concentrates on thin-film solar cell technology which will cost less money -- about $5 trillion less in the next few decades.

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