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Published on October 31st, 2011 | by Andrew

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Locally Produced, Consumed Solar Power & Inventor Nationalism: A New Model to Spur US Manufacturing & Job Growth

October 31st, 2011 by  


Our current economic malaise — a dispiriting lack of good job creation in particular — has lots of people examining present day US political economy and thinking about ways to rectify the situation. Prolific inventor and ‘serial’ entrepreneur Kent Kernahan is among them.

Working out of his home base in Cupertino, California, Kernahan has not only come up with a new way to solve a glaring safety and performance problem to do with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and installations, he’s come up with a simple, elegant public-private business model that could stimulate growth in US jobs, manufacturing and local economies. It bypasses the need to pass new legislation of any kind, doesn’t call for any corporate subsidies, tax breaks or bailouts, and it won’t require consumers footing the bill for higher electricity costs – quite the contrary actually.

Actually a combination of two ventures — Ideal PV and Locally Grown Power, Kernahan’s latest start-up not only draws on the intellectual property (IP) he’s recently developed, it’s based on his growing commitment to a concept he’s dubbed “Inventor Nationalism.”

In essence, “Inventor Nationalism” calls on US inventors to step up and exercise greater ownership and control of their inventions by stipulating that corporations or other businesses acquiring rights to their patents only use them within the US for an initial period of time, say five years.

All well and good, but can the business model and “Inventor Nationalism” actually stand up in a “globalized” economic and financial system that’s come to be dominated by large, multinational corporations? Kernahan and his partners are going to find out. They’re now working to put their technology and business model to the test.

A Virtuous Economic Circle

A serial entrepreneur with scads of experience creating and starting up power conversion and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, Kernahan told Clean Technica that he has been awarded 43 patents, most of them novelty patents. His latest are the basis for ArrayPower’s Sequenced Inverter, which the company presented at the Solar Power International (SPI) trade show in Dallas last week.

Kernahan’s since become fixated on coming up with a business model that’s more socially conscious and nationalistic, you could say patriotic, than that offered and pursued by venture capitalists, Wall Street investment banks and US business executives working for your typical multinational corporation.

Kernahan’s interest in Inventor Nationalism grew alongside his being troubled by the decline of US manufacturing and associated lack of good job creation. Looking to find a way to address these issues, he’s drawn inspiration from local, public-private economic stimulus and development projects, such as construction of stadiums, event venues.

It’s also in the spirit of locally-focused, socially responsible economic development like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Drawing on his talents and expertise, Kernahan has come up with his own variation on the theme.

Through Ideal PV and Locally Grown Power, Kernahan and partners are looking to strike up partnerships with community non-profits and municipalities to build solar panel manufacturing factories in their communities.

Ideal PV and Locally Grown Power will supply the intellectual property and the expertise needed to build and get the factories operational. Locally Grown Power will also work with the local organizations to hire and train unemployed workers – preferably those with a basic, requisite skill set – to assemble and install the solar PV systems in the city or community.

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.



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