Nonagenarian passion for solar

The problem with being ahead of one’s time is that it isn’t conducive to ever getting caught up. There must be a better way.

By Elizabeth Douglass, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 10, 2007

Forty years ago, Harold Hay came up with a way to heat and cool homes using water and the sun….

Now 98, Hay is making what he knows will be his final push.

The retired chemist promotes his cause by funding research. He vents his frustration in letters, e-mails, phone messages to anyone who will listen, and on his own website,

“The main point that he’s trying to make now is that all of our hopes are pinned on all of these complicated technologies, and it’s not that complicated. We could solve a lot of the problems by building our buildings correctly.”

Hay calls his invention the Skytherm system, and it was a wonder in the 1960s because it used the sun to heat and cool a home. The earliest version operated without any electricity, making it a purely passive solar technology.

Skytherm was the first of what’s known today as a roof-pond system….

Hay says he spearheaded the creation of the St. Louis Progressive Party, which helped get him labeled a communist. He came up with a chemical to purify drinking water, and he found a way to chemically toughen fiberboard to broaden its use. During World War II, the self-proclaimed pacifist worked on the development of synthetic rubber to avoid military service and jail. Along the way, almost as a hobby, Hays did groundbreaking research in the origins of medicine. […]

Read the very interesting article here
http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fi-haroldhay10nov10,0,3607880.story

His website is
This series of Needles is written by Harold R. Hay, Trustee, H.R. & E.J. Hay Charitable Trust, Los Angeles, CA. at the age of 97. Fifty years of dedicated research in solar energy, plus prior successes in government, industry and academia permit a broad evaluation of reasons why solar energy (not renewable energy – a culprit) is not more uniformly accepted. The fault is with all involved – including me.


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2 Responses to “Nonagenarian passion for solar”


  1. 1 Reggie Rasmussen 2007 November 12 at 2:34 pm

    Very interesting. I had not run accross MR Hay’s name until I stumbled on your blog. Thanks for the enlightenment. Solar technolgoy is not that far away now. In my opinion, it will be the next revelotion. Hillary wants to create 5 million re-newable energy jobs. Another company is starting a movment to install solar systems on homes with no upfront charges. They would then rent the systems to the client. The rent fee is in most cases covered by the utility savings. I have written extensively about this movement on my blog. http://www.solarjoules.com

  2. 2 naomi dagen bloom 2007 November 15 at 3:40 am

    there’s a longing in me to meet others who have been ahead of their time. those of us who are on a minor level thought-aheaders could be a support group for harold hay and his kind. would any more that needs to move along finally happen as a result? doubt it. but sometimes it’s soothing to feel empowered by the caring of others.


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