I think I get where you're coming from, but it's pretty hard to defend the free-energy folks as "seeking truth."
As you assert, folks in the 1930s, who understood the chemical process, would not have described solar energy as free. Neither would informed people in the 70s or today. The manufacturing process of solar panels requires energy, as does the shipping and installation, as does the maintenance. The juice you get from a solar panel pales in comparison with the juice you get from concentrated carbon from fossil fuels.
Much like the myth that you're saving environment by recycling or driving a hybrid car, you may be doing more harm than good.
I fail to see how people making stupid arguments should not be called stupid argument makers.
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