National Geographic : 1981 Feb 28
audits. The utilities must also help arrange financing and installation of energy-saving improvements. The Tennessee Valley Au thority, however, already has developed an audit-conservation program that practically has had customers beating on its doors. I doubt that anyone has ever called TVA Chairman David Freeman easygoing. "Don't tell me your problems. Get it done," he snapped to a secretary before motioning me into his suite overlooking Knoxville. Freeman, well known as an abrasive workaholic, has jarred a lot of people over the past three years at TVA, the country's largest electricity producer and long a cita del of nuclear power, all-electric homes, and bureaucracy. With 14 reactors being built, TVA suspended construction on four, and embraced conservation and solar energy. Freeman urges rural customers to burn wood. He promotes making alcohol fuel from the South's forests. "TVA began life in the Depression as a noble experiment. Its purpose was to put a green cover back on the land and raise the standard of living of the people here," he said. "It lost its spirit of adventure and experimentation after the war. Now we are going back to our roots. We want to be a model, to demonstrate what can be done." Freeman initiated a revolutionary conser vation approach similar to one developed element on earth after oxygen. Individual cells slice the crystals into wafers, wasting at least are mounted on a panel, wired together and cov- half the material. The expected price break ered with a protective layer, usually glass. Since through will come when the crystals no longer a typicalthree-inchcellyields at most about half have to be grown and cut so laboriously. Tech a watt,it would take at least6,000 cells to supply niquesare alreadybeingperfected that castpoly the averageAmerican home with electricalneeds crystallinesiliconfrom molds, draw silicon into exclusive of heatingand cooling, thin ribbons, and grow thinfilms from a variety Currentlymost solarcells are made from crys- of materials.These ribbons,films, and cast ma tals of high-puritysilicon,grownthrough a time- terials require less time and promise to be more consuming process. Diamond-edged saws then economical.