PARALLEL RESEARCH OF THE SOLAR POWER IN THE 1970 DECADE: MIT, UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA, CORFO AND BATELLE INSTITUTE
Dr. Nelson Arellano-Escudero
The oil embargo could have been incidence for the revitalization of research and development of solar energy technologies circa 1978. Nevertheless, it seems not have been recognized or keep back memories of the previous achievements since the XIX century, including the special creative and productive period between 1950 to 1972.
Archives at the Massachusetts Institute of technology, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, the Fundación Luigi Micheletti, and the Corporación de Fomento de la Producción (CORFO) in Chile store information about circulation of technical, scientific, and management knowledge that was produced thanks Western researchers and engineers. They form worldwide boosting up collaborative networks about solar energy applying either the thermosolar devices or the recent experimentation with photovoltaic.
At the same epoch, History of technology incorporated for the first time the problem of solar energy as part of its subjects, for example at the Edison Centennial Symposium held at San Francisco, California in 1979. Thomas P. Hughes and George Basalla made lectures at that meeting. Basalla discussed the persistent myth of energy and a vision about “Energy and Civilization”, the same title for the recent book by Vaclav Smil.
The whole background (including the loosed memories) offers us an excellent opportunity for reflect about the problems of the evolution of technology, the energetic transitions, the intermittent duration of the objects and the interpretation of cultures, all of this connecting with the proposal by Julia Thomas about an Eco-Economical History that allow us to analyse the environmental crisis caused by humankind and the problem of sustainability.