April 06, 2011

High Tech Grant - A Bright Idea For Albany

By: by Paul Merrill, Fox 23 News


Millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs are heading to the Capital Region.

UAlbany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is the big winner of more than $50 million in grant money to help develop new solar technology. 

If you've driven past the College of Nanoscale Science lately, you know it is expanding. An extra $57.5 million adds fuel to the fire, helping to add half a million square feet of office space and hundreds of new jobs.

The work that will be done in clean rooms over the next five to 10 years and could make solar energy available at a fraction of what it costs now.

"It becomes so cheap," said Dr. Pradeep Haldar, VP of Clean Energy Programs. "It's cheaper than the electricity that you can buy from a power plant for example. That's what's going to generate more manufacturing, more jobs."

On Monday, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer was at the college, making a push for the money.

"The key to our nation's energy independence is right here," said Schumer.

The windfall will help create hundreds of new jobs in the Capitol Region and thousands more across the state.

One of the selling points in getting the grant money is the way solar panels are developed and manufactured. It is very similar to the way that these semiconductors are developed and manufactured.

"So we're looking at leveraging our state investment that has been made here and the infrastructure that has been put in place already over here and the successful model that we've built here to try and redo the same in the solar energy space," said Dr. Haldar.

The leaders of the facility pride themselves on putting all of the major players in semiconductor R and D under the same roof.

"And together they can make progress much faster than trying to do it separately by themselves," said Dr. Haldar.

The new grant, once again, focuses national attention on Albany.

"It's speaking to jobs and it's speaking to science and technology. We're the third-fastest growing hub in the country. This just enables us to become even stronger," said Rep. Paul Tonko (D) Amsterdam.

Some local businesses say they are thrilled at the idea of hundreds of more potential customers coming to the college.

For the full article and video, please visit: http://www.fox23news.com/news/local/story/High-tech-grant-a-bright-idea-for-Albany/P3pkVZf5dEW9Nc1dkW6-2g.cspx