American Elephants

President Obama Didn’t Like the Republican Convention! Is Anyone Surprised? by The Elephant's Child

Yesterday, in Urbandale, Iowa, President Obama said “Now last week, the other party gave you their pitch at the convention down in Florida.”

It was something to behold.  Despite all the challenges that we face in this new century, what they offered over those three days was more often than not an agenda that was better suited for the last century.  It was a rerun.  We’d seen it before.  You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV.

This is fairly amusing coming from the party that in response to “the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression” (it wasn’t), tried all the failed policies with which FDR addressed the Great Depression.  And they didn’t work any better this time than they did in the 1930’s — long before black and white TV came on the scene. Bad ideas from the last century, indeed.

This administration’s really “new” idea is trying to squeeze more energy out of the wind and the sun, ignoring the most basic fact that the wind does not blow all the time and the sun goes down at night. Doesn’t work. So for real innovation we’ll turn to electric cars that go about the same distance on a charge as they did at the start of the 20th century, when they’re not catching on fire. The Chinese can make solar panels so cheaply that it has driven most American makers out of business, but they’ve gotten out of the business of solar energy for themselves entirely. As are the Europeans, who can still look at cost/effectiveness ratios. Last century?

The divide between the two parties has occasionally, but not often enough, been clearly articulated. Democrats believe in big government which will control and regulate to make things good, and then good things will flow ( dribble, trickle?) down to you. Good things come from a wise and benevolent government.

Republicans believe in free people and free markets —who derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Individual liberty. Governments are instituted among men to secure those unalienable rights that the Declaration talks about. It’s all very well to talk about rights to health care, food, housing, and birth control — but those “rights” are only guaranteed until government decides to take them away, or has to take them away because there is is neither the money nor the will to keep on supporting them.

Republicans believe in those things that have been proven to work in all the years of our struggle as a nation. Free people — really free people — innovate, experiment, try, and fail and succeed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. There are new things being created in garages and basements and labs — right now, waiting to be set free from overregulation, threatening rules, and an interfering government that wants to protect cronies from competition, and give supporters what they demand in exchange for their support. America has always been a dynamic land of creativity, enterprise and progress, and it is merely waiting to be set free once again.

What is older and more out-of-touch than an imperial presidency that ignores our Constitutional separation of powers because it is annoyingly in the way,  wants to amend the Constitution’s First Amendment because he doesn’t like the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that gives hated corporations the same political free speech all citizens have? That is truly radical.

Mitt Romney said it all in one line: President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. MY promise …is to help you and your family.

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The Chinese can make solar panels so cheaply that it has driven most American makers out of business, but they’ve gotten out of the business of solar energy for themselves entirely.

Eh, come again?

This from July 3rd:

The Chinese government has increased its planned installation of solar energy projects by 2015 from 5,000 megawatts to 21,000 megawatts. And at least one analyst expects the total to climb to more than 30,000 megawatts. That total is roughly equal to the expected new solar installations globally in 2012.

You have some more recent market intelligence that we don’t?

As are the Europeans, who can still look at cost/effectiveness ratios.

Growth in solar installations in Europe are certainly slowing down, but the continent has not abandoned solar energy yet. Here is an up-to-date link to solar feed-in tariffs in the EU. Eighteen of the 27 EU Member States have them; most of the rest encourage solar installations through subsidies for roof-top modules, or require electric utilities to meet a certain share of their nominal capacity or energy production from renewable sources. Many feed-in-tariffs have been reduced in recent years, that is true. Partly those FITs have been reduced for budgetary reasons, but also because costs per installed Watt are falling. Even the European Photovoltaic Industry Association advocates declining subsidies.

I am not defending or criticizing any of these plans and policies here, just wondering how in the world you came to the conclusion that the Chinese have “gotten out of the business of solar energy for themselves entirely” and that so are “the Europeans”.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

I read, and I did not keep the article, that the Chinese were getting out of solar energy for themselves. I simply cannot keep every article that has something of interest and apparently err when I depend on my flawed memory. What I have read about the Germans, is that as a northern country with not anywhere near enough sun, they have a quasi-religious love for it, though it makes little sense. The Spanish economic study from Juan Carlos University made it very clear that wind and solar were simply not cost-effective and cost too many jobs in the private economy. The reason that study was so important is that it traced the effects of subsidies into the larger economy, and it did a heck of a lot of damage. When the cost of energy went up, people hired fewer workers and let people go. I don’t know about “feed-in tariffs” but unless someone can come up with a way to store energy effectively, it’s not going to work.

Engineers have said that unless there is a dramatic breakthrough, there’s not going to be much improvement in batteries, for they have exhausted the potential of rare earths as they are known. The “payback,” as I understand it, is just not there from buying solar panels to put on the roof. Europe has had a love-affair with wind and solar because otherwise they were open to blackmail by Putin and Russian natural gas — and he had shown that he was happy to use that kind of blackmail. Shale deposits are changing the overall energy picture.

For regions where there is no available energy, obviously some energy can be a huge advantage even if its undependable or only available part time. If there are no alternatives, a solar stove can be an improvement over a fire.

We once had our own dam, and generated enough power for evening and night use. I’ve also lived with no electricity and depended on Coleman lanterns and kerosene lamps, and putting up ice, so I have some personal understanding.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Correction: the link I provided for feed-in tariffs says “Prices valid for April 1st [April Fools Day!], 2010.”

For a reasonably up-to-date source, the best I can offer for the moment is Wikipedia. When I find another source I’ll post that:


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Here’s one on the UK’s:


Comment by Subsidy Eye

I’m certainly not up on government statistics, but I do watch reported trends. The people in England are having increasing problems with “fuel poverty” and their energy costs are going up drastically.(two ways of saying the same thing.) And this at a time when winters are getting colder. The public is turning against wind and solar, though governments are much slower to admit any error. I gather that the British are more sensible about the sun, being about as unfamiliar with it as we are here in the Seattle area.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

“For regions where there is no available energy, obviously some energy can be a huge advantage even if its undependable or only available part time.”

Tokelau, a group of three atolls in the South Pacific, is just about to become the world’s first territory powered entirely by the sun. The system comprises 4,032 PV modules, 392 inverters and 1,344 batteries (to ensure an even supply, including at night):

The article says that the investment cost of the project will be recouped through avoided fuel purchases in under a decade.

It goes without saying that Tokelau has an entirely different solar incidence, and electricity demand profile, from Germany and the UK.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

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