Catching the next wave of business development

What do a California solar company poised to build the world's largest nanotechnology manufacturing plant and the builder of next-generation, advanced energy storage devices have in common?

Answer: They both chose Oregon as the place where they will produce their 21st century technologies.

I recently attended events celebrating the decision of both of these companies to invest hundreds of millions of dollars here in Oregon.

California solar manufacturer Solexant Corp.’s commitment to build the world's largest nanotechnology manufacturing facility in Gresham means Oregon has now caught the next wave of the renewable energy revolution — thin-film solar — sweeping the globe. And it comes after Oregon has already established itself as the leading site for solar manufacturing in the U.S. with such firms as SolarWorld, Sanyo Solar and PV Powered.

Solexant, a developer of third-generation, ultrathin-film solar technology, said the plant will be its first commercial-scale nanocrystal manufacturing facility. Upon completion, the 100-megawatt plant will be Oregon's first thin-film solar manufacturing plant and the largest nanotechnology manufacturing facility in the world.

The factory will initially be housed in an existing 150,000-square-foot facility with plans to construct a new facility in 2011. It will employ as many as 200 Oregonians, and the company plans to build additional 100-megawatt lines in Oregon after the first line becomes operational.

Based in San Jose, Calif., Solexant produces the first ultrathin-film solar cell that incorporates high-performance, inorganic nanocrystals on flexible substrates. The technology platform — originally developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab — can utilize currently available and emerging high-efficiency materials to dramatically reduce manufacturing costs.

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Ted Kulongoski is the Governor of Oregon.

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