Tag Archives: solar energy

One of the major backers has pulled out of a solar energy power plant plan for Africa and the Middle East.

One of the major backers has pulled out of a solar energy power plant plan for Africa and the Middle East.

“We see our part in Dii as done,” says spokesman Torsten Wolf of Siemens, one of 13 founding partners of the consortium, which is also based in Munich. Siemens also said that it will pull out of the solar-energy business altogether. Its decision was made in response to falling government subsidies for solar energy and a collapse in the price of solar equipment. But to DESERTEC’S critics, Siemens’ exit also adds to doubts about the plan, which is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars. “DESERTEC is an ambitious attempt to do every­thing at once,” says Jenny Chase, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Zurich, Switzerland. “I think it’s something that will be achieved organically, bit by bit, which will probably be cheaper, easier and achieve the same results.” [emphasis mine]

The cited reasons suggest some fundamental problems with this particular project. That Siemens is abandoning the solar energy entirely, citing the lose of government subsidies as one reason, also suggests there is something fundamental wrong with the industry itself.

Then again, it could be just like the new commercial space industry. Some companies are willing to take the risks to make the money even without subsidies, while others are not.

The world’s largest solar power project, recipient of the second largest ever Department of Energy loan guarantee, has filed for bankruptcy.

Another wise investment of the Obama administration: The world’s largest solar power project, recipient of the second largest ever Department of Energy loan guarantee, has filed for bankruptcy.

Update and correction: It turns out that the company was offered the DOE loan guarantee, but turned it down. Read this second article. The facts it describe make the decisions of the Obama administration seem beyond foolish.

After spending $130 billion on solar power subsidizes, Germany has found the effort to be a monumental waste of money.

After spending $130 billion on solar power subsidies, Germany has found the effort to be a monumental waste of money.

Despite the massive investment, solar power accounts for only about 0.3% of Germany’s total energy. This is one of the key reasons why Germans now pay the second-highest price for electricity in the developed world (exceeded only by Denmark, which aims to be the “world wind-energy champion”). Germans pay three times more than their American counterparts.

Moreover, this sizeable investment does remarkably little to counter global warming. Even with unrealistically generous assumptions, the unimpressive net effect is that solar power reduces Germany’s CO2 emissions by roughly eight million metric tons – or about 1% – for the next 20 years. When the effects are calculated in a standard climate model, the result is a reduction in average temperature of 0.00005oC (one twenty-thousandth of a degree Celsius, or one ten-thousandth of a degree Fahrenheit). To put it another way: by the end of the century, Germany’s $130 billion solar panel subsidies will have postponed temperature increases by 23 hours.

Using solar, Germany is paying about $1,000 per ton of CO2 reduced. The current CO2 price in Europe is $8. Germany could have cut 131 times as much CO2 for the same price. Instead, the Germans are wasting more than 99 cents of every euro that they plow into solar panels.

Rather than invest in the pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams of politicians, wouldn’t it be smarter to let the market figure out the most efficient form of energy? At first glance that efficiency might not appear “green-friendly”, but if it is more efficient I suspect it is almost certainly going to have the least overall effect on the environment.

Obama Administration Pushing for Solar Projects on Public Lands

Coming to a state near you (until the project goes bankrupt and leaves behind a financial and environmental ruin): The Obama administration this week identified seventeen sites in six Western states, all on public land, as prime locations for solar energy projects.

To me, the best indication that something is not quite right with this proposal is that the solar industry itself has doubts.

Environmental groups hailed the announcement, but the solar industry was guarded in its response. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said he had “some significant areas of concern” about the solar energy zones@ Flexibility in project siting and access to transmission were crucial to financing and development of utility-scale solar power plants, Resch said, adding that he was optimistic a balanced approach could be found.

You would think the solar industry would be thrilled to get this support from the government. That they have reservations is a serious red flag.