Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Energy, Free Markets, Global Warming, Junk Science, Media Bias, Politics, Progressivism, Taxes, Technology, The United States | Tags: Abengoa Solar, Institute for Energy Research, The State of Maine, The Tesla Powerwall
Since then the Spanish company has built two American plants, one in Arizona and one in California, which supply electricity to more than 160,000 homes based on the capacity of the solar thermal plants. Remember that “capacity” is what the plants would provide on perfectly sunny days, and ignoring clouds or rain.
It appears that Abengoa got overambitious, and saddled with debt from its expansion, is scrambling to avoid what would be the biggest bankruptcy in Spanish corporate history. Abengoa’s American projects in Gila Bend, Arizona, and Barstow, California, still have around $2 billion in outstanding loans guaranteed by the United States government. The plants were partly financed by $605 million in federal grants and tax credits, besides the federal loan guarantees. The New York Times adds:
“The whole reason Abengoa Solar had to get the guarantee from the government is that no private lender thought the risk was worth it,” the Institute of Energy Research, a prominent renewables critic that has received financing from the oil industry, said in 2011.
Do note the NYT phrasing, and the “oil industry” link doesn’t seem to lead anywhere at all. Abengoa has legal problems as well from shareholders and creditors, with claims of misleading investors, and against individual executives. The company lost $1.3 billion last year and paid employees late.
They’ve also done projects in Central and South America. In 2007 they established the world’s first commercial solar thermal power plant on the outskirts of Seville. That year their stock hit a record high of €7.39 a share. In November, the share price had fallen below 40 euro cents. It’s now hovering around 71 euro cents.
Meanwhile up north in Maine: from Bloomberg:
Despite long winters, a famously foggy coastline and relatively few solar panels in operation, Maine is emerging as a pivotal U.S. state for determining how consumers will pay for power generated by the sun.
U.S. solar installations have boomed more than 10-fold in the past five years, driven in part by a policy known as net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That’s lowered consumers’ monthly bills, and also cuts into revenue for utilities that still must contend with their own fixed costs — spurring conflict between traditional power companies and solar providers.
The permanent problem with the sun is that sunlight is diffuse. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor, which we recognize as clouds. especially here on the Northwest coast where there is not a speck of blue sky today. Note the lovely photograph of the sun at the top of this post, and — the extensive clouds.
US solar installations have increased by 10-fold in the past five years driven by a federal policy called net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That has lowered customers’ monthly bills, but the utilities still have their own fixed costs, and it cuts into their revenue.
Maine has proposed replacing net metering with a system that lets utilities sign 20-year contracts with residential solar customers. And instead of paying the retail price, as called for under current policies, utilities would pay rates set by regulators.
Because this is the Twenty First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, the greens are sure there is a technological fix just around the corner, and energy storage will cease to be a problem. But every known rare earth has been tried and found wanting.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall is meant to be a daily use battery. Tesla has announced prices of $3,000 and $3,500, but that does not include the inverter, and with installation it comes to $7,340. It requires about 7.5 kilowatt hours to charge the Powerwall, providing about 5.4 kilowatt hours of power once charged. The Institute for Energy Research found that it would require a payback period of 38 years which is almost 4 times the warranty period of 10 years for the Powerwall. Even if solar power were used to charge the Powerwall the payback period would be 31 years. The obvious problem is that for home use, we require electricity most when the sun has gone down.
The government’s idea was that by stimulating greater consumer demand with subsidies, production would increase and costs would go down, but in the meantime the industry believes that solar is a complete non-starter unless utilities are forced to pay extremely unrealistic prices for solar energy produced by households with solar panels. It’s not just Maine, even in sunny Nevada solar requires huge subsidies.
Progressives are sure that the government can just order utilities to charge less for their services, much like ObamaCare just assumes that hospitals and doctors can be forced to accept less payment for their services and all will be well. Most of the problems with our frighteningly large national debt and yearly deficits are due to the fact that Progressives just don’t understand the free market at all. They only understand the pursuit of power and an ever-larger government.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science, Law, Politics, Progressives, Regulation, Science/Technology, Taxes, Technology, The United States | Tags: California Public Utilities Commission, Ivanpah Solar Project, Pacific Gas and Electric
“Natural” is a ubiquitous word, especially for all things environmental. Wind and solar energy are held in high esteem largely because they are “natural.” Unfortunately, the word doesn’t mean much of anything, you only have to consider its opposite —”unnatural”— to point out how meaningless it is.
But for the environmental movement, natural is a very big deal indeed. We should draw our energy from the wind and the sun, eliminate unnatural chemicals from our diet, stop cutting down trees, save endangered species, but stop putting animals in cages, and stop eating meat. The word “natural” moved right to the top of the advertising buzz-word list.
So it is no surprise that in the panic about Global Warming, which was the next big thing after we stopped panicking about a new ice age in the 1970s, and the threat of a nuclear winter receded, we turned to trying to harness the power of the sun. Sensible people pointed out that the power of the sun was very diffuse, the sun had the habit of sinking below the horizon at night, and there was the problem of cloudy days and clouds on even nice days. But this is America, and the Twenty-First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, and we have technology!
The 2.2 billion Ivanpah solar project in California’s Mojave Desert is definitely high-tech. Those tiny white rectangles in the picture above are more than 170,000 mirrors, each about the size of a garage door, that rotate to follow the path of the sun across the sky. Solar-thermal technology was meant to supersede old-fashioned solar panel farms. The mirrors would reflect the sunlight to the huge “power towers,” enormous pillars to create steam which would generate electricity. It is not only the world’s largest solar project, it is also known as “the world’s largest outdoor bird fryer.”
The facility was built by Bright Source Energy Inc, and operated by NRG Energy Inc. NRG owns the facility along with Bright Source, Google and other investors. When I wrote about Ivanpah last November, they were delivering only 40% of their promised electricity, and they were trying to get a federal grant to pay off their $1.6 billion federal loan.
Now comes news that the Ivanpah solar plant may be forced to shut down. It is not producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if they don’t receive a break from state regulators. PG&E is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems. The extension request is opposed by some consumer groups, who are complaining that the cost of the electricity from the struggling plant is exorbitant. There is no mention in the article of whether or not they got the federal grant to pay off their federal loan. The high-tech power towers just aren’t working as advertised.
The huge array is owned by BrightSource Energy Inc., NRG Energy Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Government subsidy is what brings these projects to fruition and what brings investors who expect to be rewarded by the government subsidies. Over and over, across the world, when taxpayer subsidy is removed, the project shuts down.
In neighboring Nevada I had read recently that when Nevada withdrew the state subsidy, Elon Musk pulled out, but I apparently didn’t save the article.When I consulted Google, the headlines from the articles about Elon Musk and SolarCity are so completely fascinating that I couldn’t resist linking to that page. Do scroll down slowly to get the full picture. The federal government has no business using taxpayer money to pick winners and losers in the business marketplace.
California’s one remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, produces more than twice as much clean, environmentally friendly electricity than all of California’s solar power installations combined. Environmentalists, of course, are trying to shut it down. (click to enlarge)
(h/t: Steven Hayward@ Powerline)
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Science/Technology | Tags: "The Pause", A fact of life on Planet Earth, Patrick Moore PhD
“Since time immemorial, our climate has been and will always be changing. Patrick Moore explains why “climate change,” far from being a recent human-caused disaster, is, for a myriad of complex reasons, a fact of life on Planet Earth.”
Some scientists saw global temperatures climbing and noticed that at the same time, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was climbing. Big Aha! moment. But as scientists keep telling us—correlation does not prove causation.
At the beginning of this delusion, climate scientists were not the leading lights in the faculty lounge, but when governments, accepting the UN’s IPCC as the authoritative source on all things climate, started to try to protect us from catastrophic global warming. suddenly there were grants and attention and new equipment for the labs and they began to be interviewed and became important, and the press wallowed in their authoritative utterances. The grants were all for proving the fact that the globe was warming unnaturally because, of the evildoing of humans for drawing fossil fuels from the bosom of the Earth instead of commuting on bicycles as they should.
It was discovered that the thermometer sites on which readings of national temperatures depended were not accurate at all because some idiots had put them right next to the heat vents from air conditioners or where sunlight reflected off concrete walls increasing temperatures abnormally. Then we had “the Pause” when global temperatures as measured by satellites stopped climbing. And they stopped climbing for over 19 years, yet the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere kept increasing. Causation would seem to have gone out the window, but true believers don’t give up easily, and the recipients of grants and subsidies don’t give up easily either.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Crime, Domestic Policy, Environment, Junk Science, Law, Politics, Regulation, The Constitution, The United States, United Nations | Tags: Attacking Climate "Deniers", Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that the Justice Department has “discussed” taking civil legal action against the fossil fuel industry for “denying” the threat of carbon emissions regarding climate change. The Justice Department has sent the case on to the FBI for determination.
During Lynch’s testimony, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said that he believes there are similarities between the tobacco industry’s denial of scientific studies showing the dangers of using tobacco, and companies in the fossil fuel industry denying studies that are alleged to show the threat to the world from carbon emissions. Well, we can’t have people disagreeing with us. We’ll just have to sic the law on them. What is the matter with these people?
Whitehouse, who resides in the far distant realms of Leftism, pointed out that under President Bill Clinton the Justice Department brought and won a civil case against the tobacco industry—but the Obama administration has done nothing to stop the climate change “deniers” from their obnoxious denying. Good luck with that one.
You expect to prove in a court of law that those computer programs with all their assumptions and guesses about how the climate of the earth actually works are going to overrule the proven science with crony capitalism and genuine fraud? Not going to happen. Their case is very weak, and Mother Nature is not on their side. All the fraud and dishonest behavior has been committed by the climate alarmists, because they see it as their path to a one world government, or something like that—more complete power in any case.
The Left doesn’t like disagreement. You can see someone pop up every so often demanding that something be done. They don’t like free speech, they don’t like the Constitution, they are against anyone owning a gun, and they are against anyone who does not think the Earth is being destroyed in a blaze of heat created by excess carbon dioxide, the benign gas that we exhale with every breath, which acts as a fertilizer for plants and is greening the world, and helping to feed a hungry planet. Generous government grants trump scientific accuracy all too often.
President Obama just gave $500 million of taxpayer’s money to the UN Green Fund—the first chunk of a $3 billion commitment that President Obama personally made at the Paris climate talks, defying Republican objections to the president’s environmental plan. Congress has not authorized any commitment to the United Nation’s “Green Climate Fund,”and President Obama knows that they wouldn’t. But never mind, he’s quite sure that the lawyers can find a way around that tired old constitution, so he can have his way.
State Dept defiant on $500M to UN climate fund: ‘Did Congress authorize the Green Climate Fund? No.’
Asked by Senator Cory Gardner if Congress approved the US State Department to divert $500 million to the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund, Deputy Secretary Heather Higgenbottom says: “Did Congress authorize the Green Climate Fund? No. […] We’ve reviewed the authority and the process under which we can do it, and our lawyers and we have determined that we have the ability to do it, and I pledge to you and to other members we’d be happy to provide that legal analysis and the additional details.”
There’s another federal department that needs swamping out. Under the administration of Barack Obama, federal departments are engaged in figuring out how they can subvert the Constitution, do exactly what they want, and find some legal justification for it — after they’ve followed the directions from the Oval Office. This is not the way our government is supposed to work. Yet in case after case, that’s what is happening.
And for some inexplicable reason, many ordinary folks are furious with “the establishment” (which apparently means anyone who has worked in government) and Republicans for being unable to stop such behavior, and want to elect an “outsider” (someone who has no understanding of how the government is supposed to work) to be in charge rather than someone who is familiar with the problems.
And by the way, there are no climate “deniers.” Most everyone has noticed that there is a constantly changing climate. The true believers simply accept that the cause of climate change is carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because that’s what they have been told, or because that’s what pays their salary, or because that’s what gets them big taxpayer subsidies from the government. Not because they are actually familiar with the science in question.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Crime, Economics, Environment, Freedom, Global Warming, History, Junk Science, Politics, Progressives | Tags: "The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy", Stop Disagreeing, The Force of Law
On February 10, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) held a panel discussion on how to take legal action to implement the environmental activists agenda through legal action against climate change deniers. They covered topics such as RICO prosecutions, climate torts and the Supreme court’s ‘appalling’ stay of the Clean Power Plan. The session was organized and moderated by Lisa Heinzerling, an attorney brought into the EPA to manage the legal analysis of just how to extend EPA powers beyond the limits of the Clean Air Act.
What Republicans cannot get through their heads is that the Progressives, the Left, are at war “to fight for the world as it should be.”They don’t know very much and they have trouble defending their point of view — and they want the “vast right wing conspiracy” to stop disagreeing and they are willing to put you in prison to make you stop. They believe that utopia is just there, a few steps away, if the damned right wingers would just stop arguing and spoiling everything.
The ACS is a very liberal association of legal progressives that sponsors over 1,ooo sessions a year to promote their agenda and create a network “useful in influencing judges nationwide.” They don’t like conservative “buzzwords” like “originalism” and “strict construction” that use neutral-sounding language that leads to hated conservatism.
Although last to speak, the keynote message was offered by Senator Whitehouse. He supports a federal RICO investigation and prosecution of “deniers.” His was a political screed based exclusively on a presumption of a scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change through use of hydrocarbons. He believes the tobacco RICO case is the “roadmap” for prosecution of deniers and he looks forward to the day when the CEOs of the coal, petrochemical and electric power industry are marched before the Senate to confess their crime.
Greens are terrified that cheap coal, oil and natural gas are making renewable fuels uneconomical. Americans are spending less on energy than at any time in recent memory. Wind and solar are barely affordable when oil prices are high.
A California congressman and two other representatives demanded last week that the government investigate Royal Dutch Shell “for deceiving the public about the alleged dangers associated with man-made global warming.”
Don’t laugh, they are serious about this. Really.
ADDENDUM: I did top this article with a vague picture of potential hangings from an article about ISIS. It has been suggested that nooses are “racist” because lynching. So I am replacing it with the Inquisition, where a man’s feet are being burned off as he screams because I don’t want to “offend,” because “political correctness.” Go figure.