Green Energy, a Panacea or a Boondoggle?

March 8, 2013


President Obama has made the promotion of green jobs and manufacturing the cornerstone of his economic recovery plan. Yet even before Congress passed an extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) on the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 1, in a post-election, lame duck session, American wind turbine manufactures were laying off workers right and left.


As indicated last year by the Institute for Energy Research (IER), approximately 3,000 jobs were eliminated, equal to 30% of the 11,000 direct manufacturing jobs in the industry.


Although the PTC wind tax credit might keep the wind industry from falling immediately over the cliff, wind energy continues to face the same drawbacks, namely:  Up-front capital costs, intermittency of wind, windy areas frequently far from population centers, and not-in-my-backyard environmental issues.


Two additional factors likewise weigh heavily on the wind industry:  1)  Low-cost natural gas means a greater cost disadvantage for natural-gas fired generation and 2) Overcapacity in the wind turbine manufacturing industry created by approximately $15 billion in nonrecurring stimulus.


Since the wind industry is based on an economic fantasy that can survive only with government mandates and handouts, it is baffling that supporters of wind energy do not realize how expensive labor costs in America cannot complete with cheaper labor from China.


Although stories are often heard about the success of wind power overseas to make it appear as if wind energy is booming across the Atlantic, reality tells a different story.  European wind projects are increasingly fraught by gross failure, economic problems related to unsustainable subsidies, curtailment of subsidies, and citizen revolt.


A Citizen’s Task Force on Wind Power in Maine complied an enlightening list of articles that detail what the U.S. wind industry doesn’t want you to know about Europe.


As bad as things look in wind manufacturing, the solar manufacturing industry looks even worse,  The widely reported failure of Solyndra, and several other high profile green industry firms in the US, only highlight the inability of the Obama administration to pick winners.  As it stands China owns the solar cell market, exporting 90% of its solar energy products.


In a recent report by the Hamilton Project (an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution), electricity from newly installed solar installations in the U.S. would cost three times more as electricity generated from natural gas and almost twice as expensive as electricity from coal.


Is it any wonder why solar cells and wind turbines cannot be manufactured profitably in the U.S. or anywhere in the developed world?  Green energy can’t compete in the free market because it’s so much more expensive to produce.


Jay Lehr, Ph.D, Science Director at The Heartland Institute bemoans how computers and the internet have made people dumber as a 9th grade course in elementary physics should convince everyone of the total impossibility of economic harvesting of wind or solar or the idea that mankind controls climate.


How long will it take until the insanity of wind and solar make it into America’s brain!




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