Friday, May 01, 2009

Solar energy DOA -- What goes around comes around by Walt Barrett

Solar Energy DOA – What Goes Around Comes Around by Walt Barrett
I have studied solar energy since 1950, and have found that it is a fairly simple and practical science in most cases, like home heating and hot water heating. However, it does get more complicated which translates into expensive when used to make electricity.
I actually went into the solar hot water and heating business in 1973, and hung on until 1983. I would describe the business as only a fair performer, and it took massive income tax credits just to put the business on break even basis. I sold all of my manufacturing equipment and walked away in disgust. We were only one among hundreds of US companies that did exactly the same, and some of them had plenty of money, and could have afforded to hang in. Solar Heating and hot water systems have failed to become a mass market product. We have had thirty-six years to benefit from the lessons of the 1973 energy crisis, but it would appear that we have not learned a thing.
I really made a big mistake by believing that solar was going to be the next big thing when I decided to go into to solar energy business in 1973. I had also considered going into the computer manufacturing business instead. I had been studying electronics since the late nineteen forties, and had both military electronics training, and college courses under my belt. Well I chose solar instead because of all the energy shortages talk and then the actual energy crisis. Well that was a huge mistake, and by 1983, I was totally convinced of that.
If this sounds like sour grapes, it probably is. Oh well, we all make mistakes.
Now why has the solar energy business failed to really take hold in the USA?
I will give you my honest opinion.


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