Thursday, April 5, 2012

Some try to pick winners and losers. New York State is satisfied with just picking losers.


Recently, The New York State Power Authority announced that they have have authorized a new solar energy initiative and have authorized $30 million bucks toward the effort. And, there is lots more money available to be wasted on failed green energy projects.

Holy crap! Do these guys at NYPA ever read the news?

Today, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Solar Flare-out
As companies go bust, Europe rethinks solar power subsidies.

The green economy strikes again, or shall we say strikes out. Oakland-based Solar Trust of America filed for bankruptcy this week, leaving its planned multibillion-dollar plant in California on ice. The company declared itself insolvent after its parent—Germany's Solar Millennium—filed for bankruptcy in December, and Solar Trust realized it wouldn't be able to pay a $1 million rent check due April 1.

When I grow up, I want to work for
NYPA and be in charge of picking
winners.
Solar Millennium, in turn, had been hoping to sell a controlling stake in Solar Trust to the German company, solarhybrid, until solarhybrid also filed for bankruptcy in March. Then there's Q-Cells, another German solar company, which also filed for bankruptcy this week, sharing that fate with Solon, the Berlin-headquartered photovoltaic firm that went bust in December.

This cascade of insolvencies comes after Germany decided last year to slash the above-market prices it forces utilities to pay for renewable energy sources and to cut the subsidies that have locked German taxpayers into €100 billion in handouts to the solar industry. Even before the subsidy cut, German solar manufacturers were struggling under price pressure from China, which has responded to Western subsidies by ramping up its own production, undercutting higher-cost European and American producers in the process.

Greens in Germany and beyond are protesting that if only governments would continue soaking taxpayers to prop up solar, wind and other low-carbon favorites, these technologies would be viable. But even that is far from clear. Q-Cells and others had responded to Chinese competition by outsourcing some of their own production to Asia to cut costs. That wasn't enough to save them.

The real story is that green manufacturing, which was supposed to be the planet's salvation and Europe's new industrial base, proved to be as vulnerable to low-cost competition as many other industries. Far from creating a sustainable comparative advantage, German subsidies sparked the very rivalry now putting its home-grown industry out of business.