The current energy crisis is anything but a new phenomena. Over time, the political motivation for new technology may change but for the scientific community the challenge remains the same. Research into alternative energy costs money and there’s nothing like an armed conflict to get the politicians on your side.
In the mid 1970s, they were trying to find the answer to the Yom Kippur war. By 1980, it was a reaction to the Islamic revolution in Iran. It was into this foray that the space industry decided to put their oar in the water and suggest that man be able to produce limitless energy in outer space and then beam it back down to Earth with no pollution and zero cost.
The Apollo project had just finished, and the rocket scientists were at a loose end. For this and other reasons, the American space agency, Nasa got into orbiting solar power in a big way and an awful lot of optimistic reports were written about the possibility of saving the world from geostationary orbit. Such an option would neatly have avoided such pesky problems as Opec (the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), the new government in Iran and organised labour.