5 DECEMBER,1978; SOLAR ENERGY HEARING
This is the third time I have the pleasure of testifying on Solar Energy. You, representatives of the Energy Department may have wondered. with me, about the handling of these testimonies. Summaries and conclusions of the previous meetings had not a single word about our distinguished TRW company’s Robert Douglas testifying on June 15 that OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) could now, today, be built competitive with nuclear plants; not even a single reference to testimony the next day, June 16, ; that reputable New Orleans Shipyards offered to build OTEC plants for less than half of the cost of nuclear plants built today. Since the OTEC fuel is free and nuclear fuel cost rises every day, this would seem remarkable.
We were told that the testimonies would be screened and summarized by a private firm–The Franklin Institute. Aren’t you, Energy Department representatives, wondering with me what sort of instructions this firm received, and from whom?
In Canada there was recently a hearing about an oil pipeline–far less important than our present energy matter. Justice Berger, head of that Canadian hearing, travelled around the country and listened to everyone who had anything to say — experts, yes, but also to lone hunters and fishermen, Eskimo seal hunters — and all this was reported, fully, and published, with no in-between Franklin Institute to cut and scramble at their pleasure the carefully prepared testimonies from concerned citizens and large technological firms.
Assuming the Department of Energy will review its obligations to testifiers, I will, now repeat my story with a new slant: For about a hundred years now a growing number of people have realized that our little globe is bubbling with renewable energy — much more than we will ever need. For the past fifty years engineers have built and tested plants: Windmills (a form of solar energy); Ocean currents; recently Wave machines;Tide utilization; and Ocean Thermal machines. Seven open cycle 0TEC plants in small sizes and one closed-cycle plant have been built, tested, and found most promising. Two more closed cycle plants are currently being built in Hawaii. It is essential to understand that one who builds and tests a small plant gains an insight in its potential, its economics that no one else can share. So we need demonstration plants — not to convince the men of experience but to convince the others. These others, however, in Government or elsewhere, often do not realize their handicap and write ponderous documents preventing progress. This is particularly unfortunate at this time when the most severe depression ever experienced is forecast by Presidential and other learned commissions. The only way to prevent this scenario is to build, in a crash program, solar plants now, particularly OTEC’s in which the storage problem is solved. Crash programs are, by the way, the most efficient programs here in the US.
Actually, we do not have to wait for a depression: Billions of people are starving, freezing today, and the governments responsible for these victims are near ruin — and will pull with them large US banks committed to un-repayable loans. Yet, only a brave resolve and a relatively small initial investment would turn that series of events around and make our nation the most beneficial ever to have graced this earth.
My humble advice on how to proceed is available.
SeaWater Conversion Lab
Richmond Field Station, Richmond, Ca. 94804
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