The New York Times reports that General Electric is going to buy the assets of AstroPower, the largest American-owned maker of solar power gear. The acquisition is possibly related to ongoing G.E. research into light-emitting polymers. As it happens, the process by which these plastics convert electricity to light seems to be reversible; flexible, plastic-based photovoltaics may be on the near horizon.
As they began to look more closely at developments in the photovoltaics market, G.E. researchers also realized that they had expertise to apply to silicon designs that could pay off even if the plastics project ultimately failed. And pursuing the technology supported the goal of Jeffrey R. Immelt, G.E.'s chairman and chief executive, to become a leader in markets based on renewable-energy technology and energy efficiency, including wind power, fuel cells, hydrogen storage and microturbines.
It will come as little surprise that the one strongly critical comment in the article comes from a spokesman for ExxonMobil, a company which seems truly devoted to the role of the environment's Snidely Whiplash.