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Scott Jagow: There's a new player in the solar industry.
The computer business. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton explains.

Sam Eaton: In the last few months, Intel, IBM and National Semiconductor have announced major investments and technological breakthroughs in solar panels.

That doesn't surprise Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle. He says many computer companies already work with silicon, the main ingredient in both computer chips and solar panels. But similarities aside, Enderle says money is the main driver of the union.

Rob Enderle: It's seen as a way to kind of restore the microprocessor market or the chip market into something that's even more powerful and more robust than it was in its heyday in the late 90's.

Today, growth in the computer chip business has slowed, but solar power is projected to grow 40 percent annually. And as companies like IBM and National Semiconductor begin to mass produce solar panels and their components, analysts say solar power could soon beat out coal on price.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

Follow Sam Eaton at @eatonsam