The sun is starting to grow jobs

I've been meaning to post this article from the NY Times on the rise of "Greentech" companies in California.

SunPower, which makes the silicon-based cells that turn sunlight into electricity, reported 2007 revenue of more than $775 million, more than triple its 2006 revenue. The company expects sales to top $1 billion this year. SunPower, based in San Jose, said its stock price grew 251 percent in 2007, faster than any other Silicon Valley company, including Apple and Google.

Not coincidentally, three-quarters of the nation’s demand for solar comes from residents and companies in California. “There is a real economy — multiple companies, all of which have the chance to be billion-dollar operators,” said Daniel M. Kammen, a professor in the energy and resources group at the University of California, Berkeley. California, he says, is poised to be both the world’s next big solar market and its entrepreneurial center.

The question, Professor Kammen says, is: “How can we make sure it’s not just green elite or green chic, and make it the basis for the economy?”

...

“We’re at the dawn of a revolution that could be as powerful as the Internet revolution,” Mr. Reicher said. The problem is, he said, “renewable energy simply costs too much.”

Imagine that: energy prices rise and alternative energy becomes profitable! Whoda thunkit?

The article didn't mention the company that many people believe to be the gorilla of the sector: Phoenix-based First Solar. I got lucky and got in at 195 last month. Someone whose opinion about tech I respect believes the stock is going to $900 eventually.

Disclaimer: Yes I know that many of these companies benefit from subsidies.

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"The Higher Good is Serving Our Customers"

You might be interested in this interview, just released today, with the CEO of Cypress Semiconductors, which owns SunPower. He's an "avowed libertarian" and of the Friedman school of corporate responsibility. It's pretty inspiring, actually.

Then shouldn't he state

Then shouldn't he state corporate responsibility is towards the shareholders rather than the customers?

Semantics

I'm pretty sure he says his responsibility is to shareholders elsewhere in the interview. I don't see any real conflict between saying your repsonsibility is to shareholders and that the "higher good" is serving customers. One presumes that you make money for your shareholders by selling customers products they want.

Stakeholder theory vs. shareholder theory

Have you read Roderick Long's critique of Friedman? He makes the same point: that by worrying about the rising prices for customers and the decreased wages for employees that result from pursuing social responsibility, Friedman is unintentionally arguing for a certain form of stakeholder theory, even while he is intending to argue against stakeholder theory and for shareholder theory.

Not so fast, Jonathan. We

Not so fast, Jonathan. We all know that the sun destroys jobs; it doesn't create them.

Perhaps solar panels are the candle makers' revenge against the sun?