Money attracts university and industry experts. I am suspicious of such
experts. After listening to a meeting for three days, I think I understand
the mechanics of the government's grants for work on solar energy.
When people want to get rid of a kind of insect, one method is to not
directly kill the insect, but to raise and relese vast quantities of sterile
male insects. The sterile insects make up the major portion of the male
insect population and thus, after mating, most females are infertile.
After a few generations the insect population is down to a handful.
I see the projects and research teams chosen by the government as sterile.
When someone is interested in solar energy he is likely to bump into
publicity or people associated with such projects. Result: he is advised
that solar heating, cooling, or power are "not feasible at this time."
I can't find any one person who has planned this solar insecticide scheme;
I do not think he exists. Rather, these techniques seem to naturally grow
out of an unspoken understanding that oil, coal, gas and nuclear power
are the proper energy sources. If the sun is so good, why doesn't it belong
to GE, GM, ITT or the NRC?
Another way to look at the money now spent on solar energy research
is that it is being used as a vaccination against the full blown disease
of solar energy utilization. A certain amount of solar energy activity
is encouraged so that the country can reach an actively immune state.
Those who own or control the competing energy sources--coal, oil, gas,
nuclear--can then become familiar with the threat--solar energy. Projects
can be undertaken that will result in failure or extraordinarily high
prices. Reports--stacks of them--will indicate hopeless bottlenecks and
contradictions in the design and manufacture of solar heating equipment.
I would expect many of the projects to be undertaken in the midst of
huge government laboratories primarily devoted to other activities,
such as nuclear energy. There the avid solar energy worker is likely
to find himself transferred when he becomes too productive.
It is certainly fortunate that a great deal of success is within reach
of the backyard inventor and the small shop.