power during the last oil crisis 33 yearsago.
Answering a call from the U.S. government for solar innovations, he invented
a closed-loop, low-energy system to produce high-quality polysilicon for solar cells. He was certain his process would improve efficiency throughout the solar industry,
but he never got to find out. Support from the government faded as oil prices returned to earth, and investors didn't fill the gap. Schumacherreluctantly dropped his plans and proceeded with a successful career that saw him earn over 40 patents and create hundreds of high-paying R&D jobs through the various technology companies he created in California. Three decades later,
is getting another chance tomake his solar system a reality - in Oregon.
His company, Peak Sun Silicon, has broken ground on a polysilicon manufacturing plant inMillersburg, north of Albany,
with ambitious plans to raise $718 million and create 500 jobs by the end of 2011, generatingraw materials for a solar manufacturing industry that is growing robustly both globally and in Oregon.
that by this time next year Oregon will reach $1.4 billion in committed capital for solar manufacturing.
And thatfigure doesn't include the earnings of a growing legion of system installers, distributors, marketers, electricians, researchers, financial consultants,lawyers and architects who plan to be soaking up rays and revenues as the push to solar intensifies.
Oregon is betting big on all forms of renewable energy, but none has drawn more investment and business interest than the burgeoning solar industry.At the world's largest solar trade show in Munich, Germany, in April there was one U.S. state with its own booth:Oregon. Solar entrepreneurs enticed by lucrative incentives
, most notably the German powerhouse SolarWorld,
are pouringinto the Oregon market
, and more are being recruited, making the state's goal of a "self reinforcing cluster" in the solar industry seem lesslike wishful thinking and more like concrete reality. Residential solar installations are up 35%, commercial projects are on track to quadruple from2007 to 2008, and the market looks even sunnier to the south, where California has launched a $3.35 billion solar initiative that will further boostdemand for solar equipment that is more and more likely to be made in Oregon. The timing is serendipitous. The weak dollar is boosting exports and sending oil prices to all-time highs. New concerns and laws regarding climatechange are strengthening a market that is firmly established in Europe and growing everywhere else. Venture capital investments in solar energytopped $1 billion in the U.S. last year, and two of the hottest stocks on Wall Street have been First Solar in Phoenix and Sun Power in San Jose.
a strong Silicon Forest workforce familiar with the basic technology used in solar manufacturing and
some of the most generous subsidiesoffered by any state