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Since Ratul Puri, the 35-year-old executive director of Moser Baer India returned to India from college in the United States in 1994, he’s helped transform Moser Baer from a rinky-dink maker of floppy disks into a $400 million high-tech company that straddles business as diverse as the optical media, home entertainment, consumer electronics and solar energy sectors.

But the company’s most exciting move is its venture into making thin-film solar energy panels, where its expertise in shaving down costs has the potential to spark a revolution in this power-starved country. “India has a massive opportunity in solar. Five, ten, fifteen years down the road it can be amongst the world’s largest markets,” says Puri.

Puri claims that his enormous CD and DVD volumes actually give him more experience in coating thin-film silicon — the essential technology that Moser Baer’s solar cells will employ — than virtually any other company in the world. “We plan to have 600-odd megawatts of capacity by 2010,” he said, “which will get us to the magic $1 a watt [that it will take to compete with conventional power].”

So, with its strength in manufacturing stuff at very low prices, will Moser Baer become a global supplier of solar panels soon?

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