Posts Tagged ‘solar energy startup’

Remember last week, when solar power was ALL OVER THE NEWS?  Check out this video of News 8 Austin’s news story from Monday (and look for Smitty, our director, proclaiming that “Now is the time to Wildcat the Sun!”):


Also, check out KXAN’s news coverage.  The KXAN slant on the story was pretty interesting: they focused on how jobs lost in the semiconductor industry could be replaced by new solar manufacturing jobs.


circuitAustin has long been a hub of the semiconductor industry because a generation ago, state legislators passed a package of incentives to lure silicon chip manufacturers to Texas.  This created a high tech boom that has enriched Texans for over 20 years.  But now thousands of those jobs are disappearing.  The technologies involved to manufacture semiconductor chips and solar installations are very close, and business leaders believe that the semiconductor industry can actually be repurposed to produce solar.  At the very least, the skill sets involved in one translate seamlessly into the other, so that individuals who lost semiconductor jobs are the perfect candidates for new solar jobs.

And in the Austin-American Statesman today, it turns out there really is credence to what we’ve been saying!  It never hurts to have backup.  A new solar energy start-up is moving to Austin, precisely because we’ve got all the ideal ingredients to be a solar power hub.

Said SmartSpark chief executive Ron Van Dell (former leader of semiconductor design company Legerity Inc. and chief executive of Primarion Corp., a mixed-signal semiconductor company),

[In Austin] You’ve got an excellent talent pool, a growing base of renewable energy companies and a local ecosystem that’s very supportive of high-tech startups.

…The skills mix in power electronics is very, very good in Austin, whether they’re technical people or marketing people.

…Clean energy is a sector that dovetails with the semiconductor industry, and we’ve got a lot of talented people with skills that are so well-suited for the next generation of technology innovation.

Public Citizen’s bet is that if the Texas Legislature can pass the right policies this session, we can attract even more solar manufacturing and installation companies like SmartSpark.  We don’t want to make the same mistake we did with wind, where we created a huge renewable energy boom and created thousands of installation jobs (yay!), but moved too slowly and cautiously to attract the big manufacturing companies (boo).  For more information on some of the solar legislation introduced this session, check out last week’s post “Could this be Texas’ Solar Session?”

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