Silicon Valley Betting on Solar Power

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Most solar-electric panels are made with silicon, the basic stuff of the computer chip, and require similar manufacturing techniques to those used in the computer industry, Silicon Valley veterans are bringing knowledge and experience to solar development.

An 11 megawatt solar power plant was recently completed in Portugal. It's small by the standards of power plants, but it stands as proof that solar power can be produced dependably at an acceptable cost.

Richard Swanson, president of a company called Sunpower, which makes high-efficiency solar panels, said the solar industry today is like 1983 for the computer chip, just on the brink of becoming everyday technology.

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