If somebody invents something better than petroleum, I'll gladly buy his products and I'll be better off as I'm spending less on energy. If I invested as a private citizen in this effort, I'd expect to get filthy rich. If my tax money goes to this effort, why does the other guy get rich?
The problem with those dog biscuits are that they are my dog buscuits the government is giving away, and it leaves me poorer. And it leaves society much the poorer as the guy who might find the new energy source can't get any investors.
Government investment is worse than a crap shoot. The incentive is to never find anything, just keep investing a good part of the cash back into campaign contributions to keep the gravy train rolling.
If you want to invest in Solyndras, go right ahead, but not with my money. Not wasting my money is a big deal to me. And risking my money when somebody else gets the big payout doesn't really sit well.
I was talking from the perspective of the big picture. And in a $16 trillion economy $100 million is a dog biscuit.
Put 10 thousand dog buscuits toggether, like our rulers do, and you are talking real money.