This has been especially true of ARPA-E where breakthrough has been interpreted to mean investing in basic research science projects from peer reviewed academia that might be commercially viable twenty years down the road. Bill Gates himself is informed by elite consensus and has already invested in nuclear power and a varied portfolio of energy storage technologies. Unfortunately, this narrow perspective is probably indicative of where the new breakthrough coalition will focus its efforts.
These are admirable investments, but all are from within the box of elite consensus and are incremental in nature. None are inherently outside the box or “breakthrough” in nature. None are focused on complete economically viable clean energy solutions.
At its core, clean energy is not a science problem. Its an economic and engineering problem. The R&D focus needs to be on engineering economically viable solutions. This is the domain of business, not academia or basic research. This, unfortunately is where StratoSolar fits in. It is engineering, not science. Somebody has to risk the embarrassment of investing a little in an unusual “breakthrough” engineering solution.
By Edmund Kelly