Green energy pirates
I got an e-mail from a friend recently railing against what he called (loosely translated by me) "Green Energy Pirates". Let me quote one sentence from his e-mail. "There is a whole slew of companies that move from subsidy to subsidy globally and then abandon 'green projects' when the subsidies dry up." I asked my friend (who generally prefers to remain anonymous) if he had a link to kick-start my researches. He offered Wind Energy's Ghosts.
...the disembodied voices of 37 skeletal wind turbines abandoned to rust on the hundred-acre site of the former Kamaoa Wind Farm” are crying out to us.”
Why would that be?
...the voices of Kamaoa cry out their warning as a new batch of colonists, having looted the taxpayers of Spain, Portugal, and Greece, seeks to expand upon their multi-billion-dollar foothold half a world away on the shores of the distant Potomac River. European wind developers are fleeing the EU’s expiring wind subsidies, shuttering factories, laying off workers, and leaving billions of Euros of sovereign debt and a continent-wide financial crisis in their wake. But their game is not over. Already, they are tapping a new vein of lucre from the taxpayers and ratepayers of the United States.
That was written in 2010. What has transpired since? The subsidies, set to expire at the end of 2012, have been extended. Evidently, we have the very best government money can buy.
That made me want to look for dead wind turbine pictures. Not only did I get pictures of dead wind farms in advanced stages of decay, but I was also deluged with pictures of dead birds. And just to be even handed — there were some pretty pictures of wind turbines in operation if you like that sort of thing, which I do. But I don't think of them as power generators. I think of them as giant mobile sculptures. Engineering artifacts. I don't see any reason, though, why my aesthetic sensibilities ought to be subsidized on such a vast scale. Especially since quite a few people see them as a blot on the landscape.
The problem with green energy is that the only thing green about it is the money provided by taxpayers. If it was a real energy resource, it wouldn't need a subsidy. That subsidy represents a fossil fuel burned elsewhere in the economy to make the "green energy" look "green". Of course, that is not accounted for when people tout the greenness of a project. Clever accountants. Cleverer salesmen.
So far, 34 companies that were offered federal support from taxpayers are faltering — either having gone bankrupt or laying off workers or heading for bankruptcy. This list includes only those companies that received federal money from the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy and other agencies. The amount of money indicated does not reflect how much was actually received or spent but how much was offered. The amount also does not include other state, local, and federal tax credits and subsidies, which push the amount of money these companies have received from taxpayers even higher.
There is a list of the known failures at the above link.
But it only gets better. In Italy, the Mafia is involved.
The still-emerging links of the mafia to the once-booming wind and solar sector here are raising fresh questions about the use of government subsidies to fuel a shift toward cleaner energies, with critics claiming that huge state incentives created excessive profits for companies and a market bubble ripe for fraud. China-based Suntech, the world’s largest solar panel maker, last month said it would need to restate more than two years of financial results because of allegedly fake capital put up to finance new plants in Italy. The discoveries here also follow “eco-corruption” cases in Spain, where a number of companies stand accused of illegally tapping state aid.
Because it receives more sun and wind than any other part of Italy, Sicily became one of Europe’s most obvious hotbeds for renewable energies over the past decade. As the Italian government began offering billions of euros annually in subsidies for wind and solar development, the potential profitability of such projects also soared — a fact that did not go unnoticed by Sicily’s infamous crime families.
Well, organized crime has always been in cahoots with government. Al Capone owned Chicago politics. Prohibitions are just one way government subsidizes crime. With wind and solar, evidently the subsidies are direct.
I'm sorry to get politics into this. It can't be helped. I do detest politics, but I have to report what our President said during his last campaign season. It is just too funny — in a very morbid sort of way.
“Let’s double down on clean energy that has never been more promising — solar and wind and biofuels, and energy efficiency, electric batteries,” he said. “That’s what we need to be investing in.”
Well isn't that the nature of government? To double down on failure?
M. Simon's e-mail can be found on the sidebar at Space-Time Productions.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.